Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Could David Peralta Be Playing Himself Out Of A Job?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While everyone is pointing to Yasmany Tomas as the player who could potentially lose playing time to Socrates Brito (whose profile you can view by clicking here), that would be giving David Peralta a free pass.  While Brito and Peralta both are left-handed hitters, which takes away the potential for Brito to be a platoon player, Peralta has actually been abysmal this spring (through Monday):

.194 (7-36), 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB

Obviously it’s a small sample, and he has been making consistent contact (7 K vs. 7 BB), but he has just one double and one home run and the hits in general simply haven’t been falling.  Obviously the speculation would likely be greater if Tomas hadn’t missed time (though he’s come back especially strong) or if Brito was a right-handed hitter.  That said, is Peralta really a guarantee?

Remember, his .312 average in ’15 came courtesy of a .368 BABIP and 21.3% line drive rate so there’s a good chance of a regression.  That’s not to say that his average is going to be unusable, but a fall in luck and a potential rise in strikeouts (10.6% SwStr%) does give us cause for concern.

Peralta’s batted ball profile also doesn’t scream of a significant power hitter:

  • Groundballs – 52.1%
  • Flyballs – 26.6%

The power is for real, considering his average distance on non-groundballs of 282.509, but you need to put the ball in the air to tap into it.

Interestingly, you have to start to wonder if opposing pitchers are already starting to throw him less fastballs, given these numbers (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 8.81%
  • Breaking – 15.90%
  • Offspeed – 15.97%

Throw in that 14 of his home runs came off of fourseam fastballs (4), sinkers (5), cutters (4) and split fingered fastballs (1) last season and it would certainly make sense.  The question is going to be if Peralta is able to adjust, which is hardly a given.

Already a risk to fall into a platoon (.250 with 1 HR against LHP in ’15), it’s not unthinkable that he is ultimately the outfielder to lose playing time.  That’s not to say that he isn’t worth the investment, just know the risk and have a contingency plan in place.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com

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