After the 2017 season, Jose Peraza left many with doubts that he could be a part of the Reds future. He was coming off one of the worst seasons of his professional career, but with Zack Cozart leaving in free agency, everyone knew he would get one more chance in 2018 to prove himself. He’s done a pretty good job of that, albeit under the radar.

Once a Top 100 prospect, Peraza took a step backward in 2017, hitting .259/.297/.324 with an OPS of .622. But this season, he’s improved immensely. In 569 plate appearances, Peraza is hitting .288/.329/.404 with 26 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, 44 RBI, and 71 runs scored. Both his home run and walks totals are already career highs. Peraza also has a 95 wRC+ this season, which is not a career high at the major league level, but for the number of games he’s played, it is. (He played in only 72 games in 2016 and had a wRC+ of 103).

Back in July, Redleg Nation’s Jason Linden wrote an article in Cincinnati Magazine about Peraza’s improved play. Since that published piece, Peraza has been even better. In the last 14 days, he’s hitting .333/.360/.542 with three home runs, five RBI, eight runs scored, and an OPS of .902. Over the last 28 days, his OPS is .865. Peraza has seemed to make the most of the opportunity given him.

Here’s the crazy thing about Peraza that most people forget. He’s just 24 years old. That’s younger than both Trevor Story of the Rockies and Trea Turner of the Nationals. He’s the same age as the Cubs’ Addison Russell and the Braves’ Dansby Swanson. Fans want to criticize Peraza because he had a terrible 2017, but they fail to realize that it happens to young players all the time. In 2018, Swanson’s OPS is barely above .700, and Russell’s is lower than that. It’s the nature of baseball.

Last season was the first season Peraza truly struggled while playing everyday. He never hit below .280 in the Braves’ and Dodgers’ systems before being traded to the Reds. His worst season was his first professional season in 2011 when he had a .686 OPS, followed closely by 2015 with an OPS of .694. Both of these seasons had extenuating circumstances that might have have factored into the way he played. He had to adjust to being a pro in a brand new country in 2011 and to being traded to a different organization in 2015.

If there’s an area where Peraza falters, it’s taking pitches and drawing walks. While he has gotten better this season–28 compared to only 20 in 2017, his BB% sits at 4.9%. Peraza’s stats historically show he has never been that kind of player. Taking out his brief stint with the Dodgers in which he played only seven games, his BB% this season is one of the highest of his professional career and his highest since he was with Triple-A Louisville in 2016. Going back even further, this season is also higher than every other year since he was in A-ball with the Braves in 2013.

What does this mean? It means that if Peraza wants to be successful, he needs to be making contact when he swings because he isn’t going to get on base via a walk. He has been doing this more in 2018, which is contributing to the success he’s having. His Contact% is up 2.2% and his Z-Contact% (contact on pitches inside the zone divided by swings on pitches inside the zone) is up 3.0%, while his Swing% is down 1.6%. In fact, his Swing% is down this season from each of the past two seasons. Peraza is making more contact and swinging at less pitches and it results in an improved hitter.

Is Peraza one of the better players on the team right now? No, he’s not. But given his young age and the improvements he’s shown from last season to this season, the numbers he’s putting up now gives the Reds confidence he can perform at the level they anticipated when they traded for him. It’s one area where the Reds had questions going into the season, and now the question for the Reds shifts to “Where will the top infield prospect play when he comes up?” Too many players is always a good problem to have though. For now, it seems the Reds may have found their shortstop.

59 Responses

  1. Alex

    Peraza has his positives: very durable, speed, and he’s improved his hitting despite playing more this season. He’s not a reason why the Reds are 20 games under .500.

    • Matt Hendley

      True…but to be fair that is like saying he is not a reds starting pitcher. But perazas defense is responsible for at least one of the losses in the last 2 weeks

      • Jack

        Exactly Matt and they could have made the playoffs if not for that error. We can go that route with every player on the team.

      • Matt Hendley

        Technically as of right now, we can still make the playoffs. But that is neither here or there. Peraza has caused more Unearned runs then any Position Player on the reds roster this season, due to his shoddy defense.

  2. roger garrett

    Peraza was handed the second base job in 2017 and the same in 2018 at short just as Billy was/is still for what is now year 5.Not sure how that happens.Peraza has improved on offense and because of that he will start at short next year.His defense and his baseball savvy I feel will improve next year which will be year 4 for him.He is 24 years old and still learning and we need that.

    • Matt Hendley

      4 years in their Service time Joey Votto was NL MVP, Jay Bruce was an All Star, Brandon Phillips was a Gold Glove, Toddfather was the HR Derby Champ (Yes, I know, I know) that’s what we need at all short (all positions) not a guy who barely is able to field his position, going into year 4. You “Still Learn” in the minors, you are supposed to have this stuff together when you get to the show.

      • VaRedsFan

        Agree with this. The mistakes he is making are of the mental variety. Poor technique, covering bases, cutoffs, catching line drives for crissakes, ect… Those type of things should be addressed in the minors, not year 4 of MLB.

      • SF Reds Fan

        I think it depends on perspective. We are paying Peraza $500k. The Reds do not have a $150m+ budget. If you are asking me where I would deploy the next $20m-$30m of money, it would not be paying someone like Brandon Crawford the $18M he is making. It would be pitching, pitching, and an upgrade at CF (which is hopefully coming from the farm system at league min).
        Point being, we would all love to upgrade lots of positions (Realmuto over Ticker anyone?), but the reality is that Peraza is young, cheap, can hit better than the average SS and will, hopefully, improve at D. IF he doesn’t improve by the time his price tag increases, then move on to the next prospect in the farm system.

      • Matt Hendley

        The problem is the replacement is already here. (Senzil). If we were paying 18 mil for a ss it would have been cozart so i gotcha there. The CF replacement will be trammel. Peraza hits arb in a year which gives more reason to move him now. (See Duval)

      • SF Reds Fan

        The Reds know how desperate they are at SS and chose not to keep him there. I saw him play there in Spring Training. I think it’s a stretch to say he could play there (aka his third position in 2 years).
        We all want Senzel to play. I think the answer is to move the other guy that has bad defense, is much older, and will make $8m more than Peraza…..Scooter.

      • Matt Hendley

        You mean the all star second baseman scooter gennett. The current NL leading hitter scooter gennet. The clutch hitter scooter gennett. The idea is to win next season not lose. BOB C says winning team then he will pay $$ if he means it. If senzil does not work at short then flip suarez back to short and semzil to his natural 3b position.

      • greenmtred

        The Reds (including Barry Larkin, evidently) don’t think that Senzel can handle shorstop.

  3. cfd3000

    I’m still not ready to hand him the full time job for the next five years. But I did not expect him to be anything like a league average hitter so that means it’s not as critical to replace him. And the Reds really don’t have anyone in the pipeline ready to take his spot so I expect him to be the full time shortstop in 2019 and I won’t fret over that. There are too many other areas that need attention first: starting pitching, center field, and a place for Nick Senzel to hit every day. If Peraza can upgrade his defense too he might earn a long term spot. If not, he’ll do for now and that’s a lot more than I thought I’d be saying this late in 2018.

  4. docproctor

    I know the Reds have questions about Senzel’s ability to play shortstop, but I’m convinced he could handle it better than Peraza, who is fundamentally unsound at the position. Senzel could also give the team 100 more points of OPS. Peraza’s best place on this team is as a super-sub and pinch hitter/runner.

  5. Scottya

    I was wrong about Jose Peraza. I did not think he’d ever be above a 1 war SS. His development is one of the primary reasons for optimism for the Reds in 19′.

    He still has room for improvement, especially in not swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. His o swing % (swings at pitches outside the zone) is 35.3% vs 35.5% for his career. Joey Votto for his career is at 21.6% and Eugenio Suarez is at 25.6%

    His defense at shortstop has been better than adequate, which should not change as long as he continues to work at it. He likely will be a 2 to 3 war player for the next 3 or 4 years.

    • Matt Hendley

      defense at shortstop better then Adequate? I would love to have seen what you would have thought of Jonney Peraltas Defense. Statistically he is below average and I think he gets too much credit from favorable calculations with that. He is constantly blowing plays, fumbling grounders hit right to him, pulling scooter off the bag, Turning Ground Ball Double Plays into two unearned runs multiple times per week. Yes, his bat has made some improvement, (not his eye though) however it is too little too late. He will become expensive after next season, his only good season was this season, and we have at least 4 pitchers that are out of options and are going to require fancy movement to keep on the roster. Trade him for SP, and let Senzel, who will be a 2-3 WAR player RIGHT NOW (when not injured) take over short.

      • Jack

        Lol you are the typical Reds fan. You sit there and and state all the things that are wrong with his game and have been stating how terrible he is and then you want a starting pitcher for him? What started would you like for a below average shortstop?

      • Matt Hendley

        Does Not have to be a good starting pitcher, would be par for the course with the FO. Trade him for something else, put him as part of a package then, i don’t care. the point i am trying to make is that He is the person that is holding Nick Senzil up from Major League at bats the minute his finger is recovered from his surgery.

      • Bill

        Senzel is still in AAA because the two positions the Reds feel he can play already have All Stars in them. He only got a game or two at SS in AAA. If he was going you be a SS he would have been playing the position at Louisville

      • Matt Hendley

        Then Senzil to 3B Suarez to SS, He has Played SS before and he has 66 million reasons to be motivated to

      • Bill

        If you don’t like Peraza’s defense you will probably be disappointed with Suarez there. The idea of putting Suarez in the OF and Senzel at 3B would be interesting. Senzel in the OF is also an option.

      • Matt Hendley

        I dont see it with Suarez, Maybe with Senzil but then with a healthy winker we are back to the same problems we were last year

      • lwblogger2

        I think you’ll find Senzel to be the less defensively adept SS. Look, the Reds make plenty of mistakes but when they have seen a guy at a defensive position during drills, spring training (practice and games), and minor league games; and then determine that the player probably can’t handle a position defensively on a regular basis, I’m thinking they are probably right. I haven’t seen Senzel play it enough to really have an opinion and I doubt anyone else here has either, save perhaps Jason or Doug.

        Peraza makes a lot of mistakes but the number of unearned runs he’s leading to seems mighty overstated here. I also tend to think his tools and work ethic should be good enough for him to at least be an average defender at SS with potential to be better than that.

    • VaRedsFan

      Peraza, defense, and adequate shouldn’t be used in the same sentence

  6. CI3J

    I was always high on Peraza, but I’m not sure about him at SS. He’s better than Billy was when Billy was a SS. But like Billy, one of Peraza’s greatest tools is his speed, and it seems wasted if he plays a position that is mostly stationary. I know I keep saying this, but I’d REALLY like to see Peraza given a run in CF.

    But eh, I’m getting tired of repeating myself over and over. It’ll never happen.

  7. sultanofswaff

    Agree with the comments that he is below average defensively……but just barely. I too believe Senzel could be a 3 win player RIGHT NOW at the position, but you can’t have too much depth.

    That said, you could argue he’s been the 2nd most valuable player on the team after Geno because he plays a premium defensive position, plays every day, and prevents the organization from being exposed for lack of depth.

  8. Matt Hendley

    but seriously if you want a long term answer that takes financial thinking of a baseball team into account think of this. The next outfielder of note coming through the system is taylor trammel. That is going to be your CF of the reds for the early 20’s maybe even late ’19. (although I doubt its that early). the trick for the FO is to Bridge the Gap between now and Trammel. Bob C likes Billy, Billy leaves for FA after next year and Trammel takes over, but if you move Peraza there now, Senzel goes into short and performs, Trammel comes up and preforms and then you have Peraza now with no positon AND now in arbitration. which means less value in a trade and basically forces the reds to use him as a super utility regardless of his performance.

    • Jack

      Peraza has no value? You just stated above how terrible he is.

      • Matt Hendley

        i never said no value, i said lower value if he is caught without a position. We should trade him now since he had an outlier season. Get max value and make a Hole for Senzel

      • greenmtred

        We really don’t know that this is an outlier season. Icould see trying him in center if there were a good shortstop ready to replace him.

  9. jreis

    I have no doubt Perazza will continue to improve at ss, at the plate and on the bases. call me crazy but I could see him being the next 30/30 ss for the reds like Barry Larkin.
    he seems to be a hard worker and has a good work ethic.

    unless you are planning on moving Hunter Greene to short stop ( which, I think we should give the guy a chance) then there is no need to experiment with Perazza in the outfield. we have enough talent in the minors in the outfield that I would think some body could take the reigns and replace Hamilton soon.

    • Matt Hendley

      You are crazy, Barry Larkin was a +11 War Player by the end of his 4th year in the Majors Multiple Allstar, ROY votes, Silver Slugger votes, and could field his position. Perazza, is non of these, realistically he isn’t even 1/4 of these. Hunter Greene, well it did work with Othoni so, maybe.

      • GT

        I remember how terrible that Suarez guy was as a 24 year old first year full time starter. He posted a 248/317/411 slash line with 23 errors. That guy was a bum, he’s probably out of the league by now….

      • Matt Hendley

        DIfference is that at age 24 this is Perazas second go through as a “full time starter” and another year where he was used as a de facto “supersub”. The Larkin argument doesnt hold weight either as the numbers while matching were good enough to get larkin SS votes in ’88. That shows you the level of Play 30 years ago. And yes, I would transplant, the entire team back 30 years and bet they would sweep the series within 2 years…. oh wait.

      • Matt Hendley

        Also that was all done with a year less service time. Age of player arguments are invalid. Unlike the Reds FO. I expect a player to show up to the majors with the simple ability to remain in the majors. age is irrelevant. During Suarez 4th season (current Peraza), including time in Detroit, he played well enough that cincinnati extended him for over half a decade.

      • jreis

        no, I am telling you this dude can hit. his Home runs are usually no doubters. he is just as fast as Barry but, I admit , doesn’t have the baserunning instincts that Barry had but hopefully this will improve. he doesn’t have the defensive instincts that Barry has either but he is just learning the position o this should improve as well

      • Matt Hendley

        He does run into one on occasion. If by defensive instincts you mean the reaction to close the glove around the ball when it is in the glove, I think Larkin had that, when he was 12

      • CI3J

        Barry Larkin, age 24 season:

        32 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 56 RBI, 40 SB, .296 AVG, .347 OBP, .429 SLG, .776 OPS

        Jose Peraza, age 24 season (counting stats are “on pace for”):

        30 2B, 5 3B, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 25 SB, .288 AVG .329 OBP .404 SLG .733 OPS

        Not quite Larkin levels, but most people would pale in comparison to one of the greatest SS to ever play the game. That said, he’s actually not that far off in a lot of aspects, and his stats are well above average for his position.

        He’s a very, very solid player, and if he keeps developing, will be an All Star, maybe as soon as next year.

    • lwblogger2

      If Peraza has a 30HR/30SB season, I’ll treat you to a steak at The Precinct. He has a little more pop than I thought he might but he isn’t a 30 HR guy.

  10. docproctor

    Peraza leads NL shortstops with 18 errors. Next highest is 14.
    He misses liners hit right at him, he pulls fielders off the bag with his throws, he backhands what he should get in front of, he slides feet first instead of head first for grounders up the middle, he often doesn’t plant before he throws, he misjudges how long he has before he needs to get rid of the ball, he fumbles routine grounders……
    I could keep going, but anyone saying that he’s an above average defensive SS simply isn’t watching.

    • CI3J

      Barry Larkin, in his age 24 season, made 29 errors.

      Don’t believe me, look it up.

      • greenmtred

        I believe you, but I’ve never thought that errors were the most important measure of a shortstop’s defensive ability. Peraza makes some bonehead plays that aren’t called errors, but are boneheaded and costly all the same. Ihaven’t given up on him, but those sins of his ennumerated by DocProctor are a lot of problems he needs to correct.

  11. Old-school

    Balanced article and nice synopsis. Peraza has taken steps forward offensively with a credible obp and a big uptick in power. He really needs to improve his defense and clean up some mental errors. Most of his mistakes seem to occur when runners are on base and maybe he’s trying to go too fast. I would say he is 24 and this is his first year as the everyday SS at the MLB level.q

    Had the Reds proactively pursued a shortstop succession plan earlier, some of these development questions might be better answered by now. Instead, they chose to let the clock run out on Cozarts contract and then change shortstops.

  12. Scott C

    I agree that Peraza has made great strides at the plate this year. I still think his BB% needs to improve and I still think that there is a lot of soft contact which goes along with pitch selection. But my biggest concern is his defense. SS is a premium defensive position and yes you can compensate some for that at the plate but Jose still makes to many errors and bad throws on routine plays. Our middle infield right now with Scooter and Peraza is simply terrible.

  13. doofus

    Stupid defensive miscues make me question is ability to play SS. Fangraphs has his UZR/150 at -5.0.

    • Matt Hendley

      I saw that and i think that is still giving him too much credit

    • Matt Hendley

      Still recovering from Surgery

  14. Matt Hendley

    We gave away a Declining yet fan favorite 2B, for peanuts literally peanuts when we traded (gave) away brandon phillips to give Peraza the every day position at second, and he managed to lose that within half a year. We got incredibly lucky that we got Scooter to save us from what was a dumpster fire in the making. Yes we held onto Cozart to long but if you all remember he was injured during the Non waiver trade deadline and was claim/blocked for the August trade period. Peraza has had his chances, he is years behind where he should be. Scooter does have questionable defense yes, but there is no question about his bat, or that All star Home Run he hit, (clutch), or all the other home runs and Clutch hits that he makes when called upon to do it. If peraza was able to do that he would get away with his shoddy defense but he doesn’t so he won’t. On a unrelated note did anyone see that Ryan Madison Got shipped to the Dodgers?

  15. Jeff Reed

    Peraza is a scrappy hitter who often comes through in the clutch. But defensively he’s not what the Reds need at shortstop. He has some speed and a strong arm which makes him better suited for the outfield, or to be a major part of a trade for a starting pitcher. Senzel or Suarez can cover shortstop with Blandino as a backup until one of the prospects in the minors comes forth.

  16. Old-school

    Driving home and all of sudden caught second half radio interview on Cincy sports station with……..Chad Dotson? This guy is becoming a local Reds go-to authority.

  17. Sliotar

    Peraza leads ALL NL players, all positions, with 18 errors. Second in all of MLB at SS to Semien of OAK, who has 19 errors.

    If it’s a play-in game, and Peraza and Scooter (8 errors, top 10 at his position) are the SS-2B tandem, most posters here would be concerned, very concerned in the pre-game about those 2 costing the Reds the game from their defense. I would be one of them, for sure.

    He would probably be better as the CF, but there is Havoc, and the question of getting more HRs across the lineup and if Peraza could hit enough of them to justify playing him there.

    Like so many things with the 2018 Reds…messy and unanswered.

  18. Jason Linden

    I’m late on this article, but Peraza does not have “four years of service time” as someone keeps claiming. As of this moment, he’s got about 2 1/2. He had a cup of coffee one year and not quite half a season another year. He’s 24. Votto was 2 years older when he had his 4th year with big league service time. Larkin was a year older. And those are terrible comparisons anyway. Peraza is an average major league player at age 24. That’s a good piece to have as he’s got another 4 years or so before his peak.

    I understand that Peraza is imperfect, but the absolute dismissal some are throwing out here is based in emotion, not fact. And stats are being cherry-picked and distorted to provide (flimsy) evidence to back up a conclusion that’s already been reached.

    • Matt Hendley

      You are right, you are completely late, lol. That being said. No one has said to my knowledge that he has 4y service time. just that he has been up in 4 separate seasons. I do not immagine the dodgers or braves gave him much of a chance, but the reds did when he arrived, weather as a UT or assigned position. As far as stats, thats not me. Arguments based on age are irrelevant. When you show up to the majors whether it be 19 or 39 you have the same expectation of production from me, do not use the excuse that “they will be of the highest production when they are 27 (ex.)” if that is of the case then stick them in the minors until then.

      • Jason Linden

        Yes, you are right. Despite all data to the contrary, we should assume that all players will play at the same level forever and that very young average players will never improve and good older players will never decline. Solid take.

  19. Matt Hendley

    Obviously players will decline in their later age, Much later age for some (ryan, Moyer, colon,). What I am talking about is players who obviously belong in the Minor leagues, being in the majors with the excuse of “they will learn at the Major league level”, or they are young and it will come with time, as it applies here with, peraza before this season and some would argue Billy, prior to his full time call up in 2014.