by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There are a few young second baseman who have the potential to make an impact this season, among them being the White Sox’ Micah Johnson and the Braves’ Jose Peraza. Both players could bring value, especially in the speed department, but both franchises have brought in at least short-term solutions (Alberto Callaspo and Emilio Bonifacio). Which player has the most long-term upside? Who is the better gamble for this season? Let’s take a look:
2014 Statistics – .339, 2 HR, 45 RBI, 78 R, 61 SB (499 PA)
Peraza split time between High-A and Double-A, showing the potential to hit for a strong average and steal a lot of bases. He made consistent contact at both levels, with a 9.4% strikeout rate (10.8% since ’11 in the minors), and also showed the ability to hit the ball hard (in parenthesis is the league average):
- High-A – 18.1% (15.5%)
- Double-A – 19.8% (17.0%)
Obviously we wouldn’t buy into his .392 BABIP last season, but with his above average speed, strikeout rate and line drive rate seeing him carry an elevated mark is realistic. The numbers indicate the potential for a .300 hitter, with .280+ seemingly a given.
There is no power to his game at this point (23.7% OFB), and while he could mature a bit at 20-years old (he’ll turn 21 in April) it’s simply not something to be looking for. He also needs to do a better job at drawing a walk, given his 3.4% walk rate last season. The average and speed profile like a leadoff hitter, but if he’s not routinely working pitchers and drawing walks it’ll be hard to utilize him in that role.
There is hope he can improve that mark, as Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 noted:
“Peraza can also really hit; making excellent contact at every level he has played. He also has a very good approach, having great plate awareness with the ability to work counts.”
Wilson also compares Peraza to Jose Altuve, which is an extremely good comparison (Altuve’s Major League metrics have been 10.7% strikeout rate, 5.0% walk rate, 21.8% line drive rate). Maybe he never posts the numbers Altuve did in ’14, but he’s the same type of player.
2014 Statistics – .294, 5 HR, 51 RBI, 48 R, 21 SB (472 PA)
The numbers alone would put Johnson behind Peraza, but before we jump to conclusions remember that Johnson played at Double and Triple-A last season and swiped a total of 83 bases in ’13. He has shown a better ability to draw a walk (7.8% in ’14, 9.3% in his minor league career) and has similar limited upside in the home run department (19.8% OFB). However, that’s where the comparisons may end.
While Johnson offers a good strikeout rate (14.6% in ’14), it is higher than Peraza’s and doesn’t have the same potential (17.3% in the minors). He also hasn’t shown the same type of line drive rate (league average in parenthesis):
- Double-A – 13.6% (17.0%)
- Triple-A – 15.6% (19.1%)
There’s no doubting the speed, but if we are talking about Peraza in the Jose Altuve class Johnson would need to bring Billy Hamilton potential to have an advantage there. Can anyone truly say that?
Johnson appears likely to be the first player to arrive, as Bonifacio profiles better as a super utility option. That said, when Peraza arrives he seems like the significantly better target for fantasy owners. His upside is higher, especially with the comparison to Jose Altuve hanging out there. Dynasty owners would be recommended to grab him now before the rest of your league realizes how good he can be. That’s not to say that Johnson won’t be productive, but if you have your choice go Peraza every time.
Sources – Minor League Central, Prospect 361, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2015 rankings:
- First Basemen
- Second Basemen
- Third Basemen
- Starting Pitchers: 1-20 | 21-40
- Outfielders: 1-20
- Relief Pitchers
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