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.

15 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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  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. 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.

    • 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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….

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Jack

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

  10. 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.

    • 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.