Scott Schebler, Jesse Winker, and Michael Lorenzen have played some center field for the Cincinnati Reds this season. José Peraza has appeared in the outfield once this season and should get some more time at the position.
Since Billy Hamilton was non-tendered this past offseason, the Cincinnati Reds have been looking for their replacement center fielder. Many fans thought they may sign a veteran free agent center fielder but they didn’t. Until Nick Senzel returns, is José Peraza the team’s best option?
Many fans thought Nick Senzel would make the team coming out of Spring Training and play center field. However, Senzel was sent to Triple-A Louisville and ultimately was injured before the season started. Even Phillip Ervin was considered an option, but was sent to Triple-A Louisville as well.
Since the 2019 season started, Scott Schebler has started the majority of games in center field. Jesse Winker has started a couple of games himself. Even relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen has appeared in center field a couple of times late in games. As you can see, center field is currently a revolving door for the Reds.
José Peraza should join this center field by committee and get some time there as well. While many fans may disagree with the idea of having an infielder play center field, Peraza is no stranger to the outfield.
Even though he has primarily played second base and shortstop, Peraza has played some center field in his major league career. In fact, he has played there in a total of 17 games. Peraza even made an appearance in center in a game against the Pirates on April 6th this season.
Plus, the Cincinnati Reds would not be moving José Peraza to center field permanently. He would just be playing there occasionally with Winker, Schebler, and Lorenzen getting the majority of the playing time.
Peraza has the speed that this team currently is lacking. Now, I’m not saying Schebler and Winker are slow and bad defensive players, but they just aren’t your typical center field-type players. Schebs and Da Wink lack the foot speed and the range necessary to play center field on an every day basis.
These limitations aren’t a huge deal in ballparks with smaller gaps in the outfield such as Great American Ball Park. However, these limitations are a huge deal in ballparks that have larger gaps in the outfield such as Petco Park in San Diego, Oracle Park in San Francisco, and Coors Field in Denver. West Coast road trips are going to be a bear for this team.
As of now, Peraza is probably the best option on the 25-man roster with the speed to play center field and cover lots of ground in the larger outfields. Nick Senzel and Phillip Ervin probably have enough speed to cover the position as well, but they are currently in the minors or injured which Senzel is. When Senzel and/or Ervin receive a call up for an extended run in the big leagues, Peraza should turn his attention back to just the middle infield.
Plus, playing Peraza in center occasionally would give David Bell a chance to get his bench players some playing time. Specifically, it would be a good idea if the Reds want to get both Derek Dietrich and José Iglesias in the lineup while also keeping Peraza in the lineup.
With Derek Dietrich is off to a good start with 4 home runs, moving Peraza to center field on occasion could be advantageous. Likewise, Iglesias’ defense at shortstop has been remarkable and he has even hit better than many expected him to coming into this season. At this time, it’s hard to keep these two out of lineup with the way they have been performing.
Even though it probably wasn’t planned, sometimes you have to adjust on the fly in order to improve your team and ultimately win more games. The Cincinnati Reds can do that by using José Peraza in center field in this early part of the season.