Arizona Diamondbacks: David Peralta Is One Of Baseball’s Most Underrated Players
By Randy Holt
The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t tend to get much national recognition, even when it’s warranted. Playing in a smaller West Coast market does them no favors, both in regard to their team success, as well as individual triumphs. This is costing at least one outfielder the recognition that he deserves.
In a year that has been up-and-down, but still sees the Snakes atop the NL West, David Peralta has been essential. He leads the team in batting average (.279 – despite having 70 more PAs than Daniel Descalso and 110 more than A.J. Pollock). He’s fourth on the team in on-base percentage (.341). His home run total, at 14, is tied for the team lead, while his 127 wRC+ puts him in the top four. He’s made some stellar defensive plays. He’s a key piece, there isn’t any question.
Among National League outfielders, he ranks 13th in average, 17th in OBP, and sixth in wRC+. Peralta is the 11th-most valuable NL outfielder, according to WAR (1.6). All of that points to a tremendously valuable player, but one who lacks national recognition. Playing in the desert will do that. However, let’s stop the complaining for a moment to simply enjoy what Peralta is.
After a 2016 season that was largely lost to injury, and a 2017 that saw him work his way back to his actual talent level, the 2018 version of David Peralta is very real. His skill set is everything you can ask for from an outfielder.
First of all, Peralta hits the ball hard. Like, really hard. In fact, of the 66 qualifying Major League outfielders, he sports the fifth-highest hard hit ball rate. He trails only names like J.D. Martinez and Aaron Judge with a 47.6% rate. He uses the whole field as well, with a 27.8% oppo rate, to boot. When he gets the ball in the air, it gets out at among the highest rates in baseball. His 24.6% HR/FB ratio ranks sixth among the group. Names in front of him? Martinez, Judge, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton. Hard contact and flyballs will do that. Peralta credited some mechanical changes to his swing for the uptick in power. Change in the placement of the hands seemed to be a primary characteristic of that.
Fielding metrics don’t favor him as much, but that’s sometimes the case with the even the best outfielders (See: Trout, Mike). But while the metrics have him just about average (1.5 UZR/150, three Defensive Runs Saved), he’s as steady as they come. He hasn’t recorded an error and makes the routine plays, with a few highlights thrown in there. Left field doesn’t grade out as a tremendously difficult position, but Peralta plays it well. That’s all you can ask for.
Much of what David Peralta has produced this year has been similar to years past. Strikeouts a touch high, walks a touch low. Contact and whiff rates have been similar. Approach has remained about the same (3.69 Pitches Per Plate Appearance for his career). It’s been a joy, though, to see what a healthy David Peralta looks like here in 2018. Hard contact, plenty of power, and a high on-base to go along with solid fielding numbers. For a team that has needed consistency sorely throughout the year, he’s been an absolute necessity.
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Now it’s just a matter of what David Peralta brings to the table being recognized on a national scale. Folks love players that hit the ball hard and far. Peralta does that. People tend to prefer players that aren’t defensive liabilities. While he’s not showy about it, Peralta is anything but that. And, finally, fans love players that are good humans. By all accounts, Peralta is just that. Combine his skill set and his makeup with what he means to this Arizona Diamondbacks team, and you have a player in need of far more recognition than he’s currently receiving.