Is Geraldo Perdomo the right answer at shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks?

The Arizona Diamondbacks will open 2024 with Geraldo Perdomo as their starting shortstop, but is this the right choice after his poor second half?
Oct 28, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Geraldo Perdomo (2) fields a ground
Oct 28, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Geraldo Perdomo (2) fields a ground / Joe Rondone / USA TODAY NETWORK

Arizona Diamondbacks’ manager Torey Louvullo recently stated that infielder Geraldo Perdomo will be given the starting shortstop role to open 2024. Perdomo was an all-star in 2023 but fell off significantly in the second half of the year. With top prospect Jordan Lawlar on the 40-man roster who also made his MLB debut late last year, it’s reasonable to question if this is the right decision to give him the starting role.

Perdomo batted just .246/.353/.359 through 495 plate appearances. He had a healthy 12.9% walk rate and 17.4% K-rate. However, he hit for very little pop. Perdomo registered just a .113 isolated slugging percentage with six home runs. Overall, he had a .319 wOBA and 99 wRC+, making him about a league-average bat.

His shortstop defense also received okay reviews. While defensive runs saved had him at -3, UZR/150 and outs above average both liked his glovework at +4.3 and +2, respectively. He’s a decent fielding shortstop who was about a league-average contributor with the bat who got on base at a decent rate. What’s wrong with him having the starting shortstop role?

Well, Perdomo only had two good months. He had an astounding start to the 2023 season, batting .383/.456/.617 with a 190 wRC+. In May, he batted below the Mendoza line at .191 with a .676 OPS and 84 wRC+. He rebounded to a degree in June, with a .286/.398/.357 line and 114 wRC+; however, this was also short-lived. After June, Perdomo had a .205/.318/.280 slash, .277 wOBA, and 70 wRC+. April and June were the only months he had an OPS above .700, with April being the only month he had an OPS above .800.

Is Geraldo Perdomo the right answer at shortstop for the Diamondbacks?

There are also some pretty worrying underlying factors to Perdomo’s game. His 85.7 MPH exit velocity, 0.7% barrel rate, and 19.5% hard-hit rate were in the bottom third percentile or lower. There have only been 37 instances of a batter having a sub-1% barrel rate in 400+ plate appearances in the Statcast era, and none of them were good. His xwOBA was a mere .275 mark, which nearly mirrors his wOBA after June of .277.

Jordan Lawlar, on the other hand, had an extremely promising year at Amarillo. He batted .263/.366/.474 with a .378 wOBA, and 122 wRC+. A speed/power threat, Lawlar stole 33 bases with 16 home runs and a .211 isolated slugging percentage. Lawlar struck out about a quarter of the time in 2022 but cut that down to just 21.7% at Double-A. Plus, he had a quality 11.5% walk rate. Lalwar got off to a hot start at Reno, where he had a 150 wRC+ through 80 plate appearances. This earned him his first MLB call-up, but he struggled mightily, striking out 11 times in 34 plate appearances, drawing just two walks, and hitting no extra-base hits. Lawlar did, however, displayed a strong feel for shortstop at the Major League level and was one of MLB’s fastest players last year.

Giving Perdomo the starting role is a bit of a risk. His numbers after June were horrific as he ranked in the bottom ten among batters with at least 240 plate appearances in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ from the start of July onward. He also ranked last in slugging percentage and 4th to last in batting average. Meanwhile, Lawlar had a great season in the minor leagues, and while he struggled in his first MLB call-up, it was less than 50 plate appearances, and even then, he still showed potential.

But I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with allowing Perdomo to start at shortstop to open 2024. Lalwar is still only 21 and doesn’t turn 22 until mid-June. He has 114 plate appearances above Double-A. Even though Perdomo’s second half was poor, he still finished the year with a respectable 99 wRC+ and OBP above .350. The worst-case scenario is that if Perdomo continues to struggle, then the Diamondbacks can call upon Lawlar for an extended shot in the big leagues. If that’s the only downside, then why not give Perdomo the starting role to open the year? That’s not to say give Perdomo the job and let him keep it throughout the whole year, regardless of how he performs, but let’s see what he can do in the first month, maybe a month and a half of 2024. If he can’t put it together, then call up Lalwar.