Cincinnati Reds 2018 season awards: Most Improved Player

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 01: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a grand slam home run in the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on July 1, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 01: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a grand slam home run in the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on July 1, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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As we pass out the Cincinnati Reds 2018 season awards, today’s award will go to the Most Improved Player from last season. José Peraza improved in almost every offensive metric last season and is in line for an even bigger role with the team next season.

The Cincinnati Reds had three infielders make the National League All-Star team in 2018. Next season, a fourth may join them. José Peraza improved in nearly every facet of the game offensively and is the Reds 2018 Most Improved Player.

Peraza had some big shoes to fill at the start of the 2018 season. The Reds lost Zack Cozart during the offseason after he signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Cozart was a mainstay in the Reds lineup from 2012 through last season and even went to his first All-Star Game in 2017.

However, the groundwork had been laid and this was part of the plan from the Reds front office. Cincinnati had made a trade for Peraza as well as current teammates Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon in 2015 when the club shipped former third baseman Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox.

Peraza played in just 7 Major League games with the Los Angeles Dodgers before coming to Cincinnati. In May of 2016, Peraza began his big league career with the Reds. Peraza saw action in 72 games and played all over the field. José Peraza found playing time at second base, shortstop, and all three outfield spots.

Last season, Peraza was on the Opening Day roster and was the Reds primary second baseman, though he made several starts at shortstop as well. As the 2017 season wained on, Scooter Gennett was playing too well and Cozart’s season ended on the disabled list, so Peraza was given more opportunities to play shortstop.

Peraza finished the 2017 season playing 143 games and hitting .259, which was a significant dip from the .324 batting average he maintained in 2016, albeit in about half the number of games played.

During 2018, everything just seemed to click for Peraza. He slashed .288/.326/.416. He smashed a career-high 14 home runs and 58 RBIs. Peraza led the Cincinnati Reds in games played and total hits. In fact, he finished just 3 hits behind Barry Larkin‘s record for most hits by a Reds shortstop, which the Hall of Famer set back in 1990.

Peraza was fourth in the NL in hits, trailing only Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves and likely MVP Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. He bested teammate Scooter Gennett for the team lead in hits by one. Peraza also led the entire National League in singles with 133, 4 more than the Brewers’ Lorenzo Cain.

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The 2018 season was a year to forget for a lot of Cincinnati Reds fans, but it was a year to remember for José Peraza. If he can get his defense straightened out, he could be one of the most complete shortstops in the game.