José Peraza seems primed for a big year with the Cincinnati Reds. Peraza showed yesterday why he may be the best candidate for being the leadoff hitter.
There are few players I’m more excited about heading into the 2019 season than José Peraza. The 24-year-old from Venezuela appears primed for a big year, as he enters his third full season with the Cincinnati Reds. There’s been a lot of debate lately about who should hit in the leadoff spot for the Reds, and yesterday’s performance by Peraza suggests he should get a long look.
José Peraza went 3-for-3 in yesterday’s spring game against the Los Angeles Angels. Peraza, who batted leadoff in the game, got the game started off with a single. He then promptly stole second base and later stole third while the defense was misaligned. Peraza would later score on a bloop single to the outfield by Phillip Ervin.
Following a 3-run homer by Christian Colon in the top of the 2nd inning, Peraza reached base again on a single. He’d make it to third on a double by Derek Dietrich, but would be stranded there after Connor Joe struck out to end the inning.
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Peraza got one more crack at the plate in the top of the 3rd inning. With Taylor Trammell, Juan Graterol, and Chrisitan Colon all occupying the bases after 3 consecutive singles, Peraza stepped into the box. A ground ball up the middle scored Trammell from third and advanced the other two runners.
Peraza’s 1.000 batting average in the game with 2 steals and 1 RBI should quiet any cries that some fans may have about benching the budding-star in favor of the team’s recent acquisition, José Iglesias. There is also no need to have continued discussions about moving Peraza to center field in order to open up the shortstop position for Nick Senzel.
This young man makes contact. He led the National League in singles last season and came within an eyelash of breaking Barry Larkin‘s record for hits in a season by a shortstop. Larkin, one of the greatest players in Cincinnati Reds history, mat see the record fall in 2019.
José Peraza’s speed cannot be overlooked as well. Last season, he had 23 stolen bases and was caught stealing 6 times. Billy Hamilton had the club-lead last season with 34 steals, but was also caught 10 times. With Hamilton now in Kansas City, Peraza must be looked at as the Reds best option on the base paths.
Jesse Winker, in some circles, has been considered to be the Cincinnati Reds’ best option at the leadoff spot. I’m not going to argue that point too much, as Winker had a .405 on-base percentage during his rookie season. David Bell, via The Athletic, has already spoken about what he expects from the top of his batting order:
"“It makes sense to me that you have one of the top hitters hitting second. It makes sense to me you have a guy who can get on-base leading off.”"
Reading into that, it makes sense to view Winker as the favorite to win the leadoff spot. However, Peraza’s .326 on-base percentage should not be scoffed at. Though Peraza has some power, he hit 14 homers in 2018, he’s much more of singles hitter. Winker possesses more power and may be a better candidate to hit in the No. 6 or No. 7 hole while more runners are on base.
Regardless of where he hits in the lineup, I’m expecting big things from José Peraza this season. Yes, it was just one game, and I know, it’s spring ball and it doesn’t count. But, seeing Peraza get off to a fast start was good to see. Whether or not David Bell chooses Peraza, Winker, or someone else to be his leadoff hitter heading into the season is up for debate, but Peraza should definitely be part of the conversation.