David Peralta has been a solid player so far in his first two years for the Diamondbacks. He has shown that he possess a dynamic skillset, as he has showed power, speed, and defense , so 2016 may be the year where Arizona finally unleashes him on a full time basis and we see him have a career season.
One of the most challenging, yet rewarding tasks, before fantasy drafts is trying to identify certain players that you feel are on the verge of a breakout. With so many fantasy sources nowadays, it is hard to find players that other fantasy owners have not been force fed as breakout players, so finding guys that are sort of the radar are vital in fantasy success.
Peralta shapes up to be one of the great breakout candidate for 2016. Peralta’s journey to the MLB was quite the tumultuous one, as he began his career as a pitcher but failed to ever really get his going. He converted to becoming an OF after two shoulder surgeries with the outside hope of keeping his dream alive by trying to make it as a OF somewhere.
The Diamondbacks eventually took a chance on him and he has exceeded their expectations as he has evolved into a high quality OF. Last season Peralta was able to post a, .312/17 HR/78 RBI/9 SB/.893 OPS line, allowing him to enter into top 20 OF status. He also led the league in triples and pitched in 61 Runs.
Peralta’s season was dampened some by the fact that over the first three months of the season he wasn’t a starter and was not getting consistent enough playing time. The D’Backs had a logjam in the outfield to start the year, so Peralta’s line could have been better.
Once the D’Backs moved Mark Trumbo to Seattle and out of the OF rotation, Peralta really took off as he was inserted on a full time basis. Trumbo was dealt in June, and nearly immediately Peralta began to produce at the rate that would ascend him into the top 20 OF.
Peralta’s second half of the season was another sign of encouragement as he played at an All Star level from July until the end of the season. Through those months he never hot below .329, homered at least 3 times in every month, and totaled 46 RBI over the course of the second half. He clearly took off, and it is not a surprise that it aligned with him not fighting for playing time every day.
The D’Backs even slotted him in the cleanup spot behind Paul Goldschmidt a lot in the second half, a strategy that really played well for both guys. I do not know if the D’Backs will stick with in 2016, as a Peralta, A.J. Pollock, Goldschmidt trio at the top of the order would rank amongst the best in the MLB. But, if they do continue it Peralta will see his counting stats remain solid and maybe even increase.
There are two areas where I think the Peralta will improve in order to solidify his breakout next season. He only stole nine bases last season, and by watching Peralta he is certainly faster than that and should be able to at least get that mark close to 20. Four of those nine bases came in the last month of the season so I hope he has realized that it should be a bigger part of his game in 2016.
The other area I think he can improve is in the power department. Now I know 17 HR is a solid number, but there is even more room for upside there based on Peralta’s peripheral stats. Peralta clearly has a solid swing, you don’t just accidentally hit 10 triples, and his 31% LD rate is what has me excited that there is more power to come in 2016. Not to mention that Chase Field is a hitter’s haven, so he should be able to get his homers close to the 25 mark.
The only worry I have for Peralta is that he strikes out too much for comfort. He struck out 107 times in 462 plate appearances so hopefully that is something he can adjust as he has the athleticism to just focus on putting the ball in play and letting the production come to him. One other note is that his .312 AVG was buoyed by a .368 BABIP, so I expect some regression AVG wise. I do think that Peralta profiles more as a .270.-.280 hitter with his current plate approach, but at the same time in this day and age of baseball a .270’s+ hitter is great.
That leaves me with an early projection on Peralta with about a, .275/23 HR/85 RBI/20 SB line, clearly vaulting him up the rankings heading into 2016. The D’Backs have a solid core group of hitters and as we have seen with Pollock and Goldy, there are guys there that are stat stuffers, and Peralta should join that company this season. Make it a point to snag him in 2016.