David Peralta started his career in 2006 with the St. Louis Cardinals as a pitcher. After moving to the Indy league for several years, the Diamondbacks took a chance on him as a converted outfielder. He spent 2013 and 2014 in A+ and AA ball before getting called up to the big league team for a little more than half the season. He produced well in his first taste after getting the call in 2014, and not only continued, but improved a bit in his first full season. His 2015 numbers of .312/.371/.522 with 17 home runs, 9 stolen bases, 61 runs, and 78 RBIs were good for number 29 on the ESPN player rater at the season’s end.
As expected, when Peralta made the jump from AA to the majors in 2014 his walk rate declined and his strikeout rate increased. These numbers in 2014 were both about 3% below league average at a 4.6% walk and 17.2% strikeout rate. In 2015 both of these numbers increased. His walk rate improved to a slightly above league average 8.5% and his strikeout rate increased to a slightly below league average 20.7%. Looking at his plate discipline we can see reasons for these shifts.
From 2014 to 2015 he swung at fewer pitches overall. This worked out to almost 4% fewer pitches out of the zone, while swinging at about 1.5% more pitches inside of the zone.
|2014||37.2 %||64.3 %||48.9 %||31.3 %||65.7 %||46.7 %|
|2015||33.5 %||65.9 %||47.6 %||31.3 %||66.9 %||47.4 %|
While it is good that he improved his swinging outside of the zone by almost 4%, he still swings at too many pitches outside of the zone. However, as you may expect, this improvement is partly responsible for his nearly 4% improvement in walk rate.
The excellent improvement in his walk rate was offset by his now below league average strikeout rate. Yes, he improved his swinging outside of the zone, but he still swings less than average in the zone and more than average outside of the zone. This combined with his contact rate is the reason his strikeout rate increased.
|2014||67.2 %||88.2 %||79.1 %||65.8 %||87.3 %||79.4 %|
|2015||62.0 %||88.3 %||77.8 %||65.0 %||86.7 %||78.9 %|
You can see he makes better than average contact in the zone and overall. But when he swings outside of the zone, which he still does often, he makes less than average contact. In 2014 his strikeout rate was somewhat improved by the fact that even though he swung outside the zone a lot, he made good contact when he did. Both his walk and strikeout rates are sustainable if he continues this trend, and both have room to improve if Peralta continues to make some adjustments to his approach at the plate.
Peralta also hits the ball hard. In 2015 his hard hit rate of 35.1% was 6.5% higher than the league. This combined with a spray chart that shows he hits the ball up the middle more than league average also contributes to his healthy batting average. When those balls find the gaps his speed lets him turn some singles into doubles along with a number of triples – only Evan Gattis and Kevin Kiermaier hit more triples in 2015.
He did own a hefty 17.7% HR/FB rate, which was good for 25th in the league, right between Albert Pujols (17.8%) and Manny Machado (17.6%). Because of his hard hit rate, a higher than average HR/FB rate may be sustainable. However. since he hits the ball on the ground more (50.3%) and in the air less (28.4%) than the league as a whole, owners shouldn’t expect him to improve on his 17 home runs from 2015. I would not expect much less than 17 though. Peralta owned an average flyball distance last season of 298 feet, enough to rank him 36th overall in the majors. While the HR/FB% may come down, the additional at bats should help maintain this total, or exceed it with a few more fly balls.
Let’s not forget that he was initially drafted into the league as a pitcher. He was in A+ ball in 2013, seeing professional level pitchers for the first time at the age of 26, and to date he has handled the transition nicely. Peralta is clearly a talented athlete, and I expect some facets of his game to improve as he gets even more used to major league pitching. You could expect improved walk and strikeout rates, and imagine him continuing to hit for a solid average with a good number of doubles and triples along with contribution in both home runs and stolen bases.
With Ender Inciarte being traded to the Braves, Peralta should have a steady place in the roster for the entire year. Rosterresource.com has him projected to bat 4th behind AJ Pollock, Jean Segura, and Paul Goldschmidt, and in front of Wellington Castillo and Jake Lamb. His solid batting average and good power should give him ample opportunities to drive in runs and plenty of chances to score runs through the year.
Steamer projects him for .281/.334/.449 and 16 home runs, 8 steals, 68 runs, and 72 RBI. I project a similar line of .290/.350/.450 with 15 home runs, 5 steals, 75 runs, and 80 RBI. He is currently being drafted as the 38th outfielder off the board, and 137th overall – that’s after round 10 in a 12 team league. I believe he will again crack the top 30 outfield list by the end of 2016, and can be drafted in a place of value this preseason.
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