Cincinnati Reds: No debate, Jose Peraza is the shortstop of the future

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 12: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds fields a ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on September 12, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 12: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds fields a ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on September 12, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds have been searching for a shortstop to man the infield at Great American Ball Park since Barry Larkin retired. They may have finally found it in Jose Peraza.

Zack Cozart spent the last seven years manning the shortstop position for the Cincinnati Reds. He moved on via free agency over the offseason after signing a 3-year, $38-million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. That opened the door for Jose Peraza to become the full-time starter at shortstop for Cincinnati this season. He has not disappointed.

Since Barry Larkin retired following the 2004 season, the Cincinnati Reds have been trying to fill his shoes at shortstop. Cozart was a solid contributor for Cincinnati from 2011-2017, but injuries plagued his entire Reds’ career.

Before Cozart, there was Felipe Lopez, Royce Clayton, Alex Gonzalez, Paul Janish, Edgar Renteria, and Orlando Cabrera. None of them came close being the long-term answer for the Reds at shortstop. Granted, filling the spot of a Cincinnati-native and Hall of Famer is not an easy task.

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Now, while Peraza is not yet in the same stratosphere as Larkin, he may be the closest thing the Reds have had since Larkin’s retirement. Peraza is having a breakout season and is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak.

Jose Peraza played in 143 games last season for the Reds. However, with Cozart manning shortstop for 114 games in 2017, not all of Peraza’s playing time was spent at shortstop. Peraza played 55 games at short, 77 at second base, and a handful of games in the outfield for the Reds in 2017.

Peraza is still a bit shaky with the glove. His fielding percentage this season is .962, after posting a .972 last season. Freddy Galvis is the best in the National League with .987. In fact, some of the best leather in the NL is flashed out west with Nick Ahmed (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants) joining Galvis in the conversation of the best defensive shortstop in the National League.

But, at the plate, there can be no debate regarding Peraza’s ability. He has been one of the most impressive bats in the Cincinnati Reds lineup this season. Peraza is hitting .294 with an on-base percentage of .333.

Jose Peraza entered Sunday’s game against the Cubs with 171 hits on the year. That puts him only 14 hits behind Barry Larkin’s club-leading 185 hits for a shortstop. Larkin reached that number in 1990 en route to an All-Star appearance and Silver Slugger Award.

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Peraza needs to show that he can maintain consistency going into next season. He isn’t arbitration eligible until 2020 and is under team control through 2022. He’ll have plenty of time over the next few seasons to prove his worth the Cincinnati Reds.