The Cincinnati Reds have tried Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, and Joey Votto at the top of the order. It’s time to stick José Peraza in the leadoff spot.
The Cincinnati Reds stretch of 9 games away from home is now complete. While the long ball paved the way for the weekend series win over the Padres, this team is clearly missing a true leadoff hitter who could set the table for the Reds big bats. José Peraza should be given the opportunity to hit at the top of the order.
Losing Billy Hamilton took some speed out of the lineup and created a dilemma as to who would hit leadoff for the Cincinnati Reds this season. Hamilton did not hit leadoff during the entirety of 2018 and this spot in the order remains a carousel in 2019 as well.
So far, Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell has attempted to utilize Scott Schebler, Jesse Winker, Joey Votto, Curt Casali and twice during this series with the San Diego Padres, Bell elected to utilize José Peraza in that spot in the order. Obviously Bell is seeking the right man for the job.
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Coming into the 2019 season, it seemed that Peraza should have been in the mix for the leadoff spot. However, Spring Training games in Arizona often featured either Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, or even Scooter Gennett handling that duty.
Perhaps with Joey Votto out of the final two games of the road trip with tightness in his back, the desire to jumpstart the Reds’ slumping shortstop, or a combination of the two led to Peraza being inserted into the top of the order.
José did not set the world on fire in either game, as he went a combined 2-for-10. However, he did get the Reds on the board in the 1st inning of Saturday night’s 4-2 win with a bloop single and then later coming around to score on an RBI single by Jose Iglesias.
José Peraza left the West Coast with a paltry .150 batting average in 60 official at bats so far this season. Most Reds fans would agree that Peraza will get his bat going sooner rather than later.
Admittedly not the second coming of Rickey Henderson or Vince Coleman, the back of Peraza’s baseball card does suggest that he has the most potential as anyone on the team to be a productive leadoff man. In 391 games with the Reds, Peraza has a slash line of .277/.313/.374.
Being the fastest member of the team, Peraza has achieved 69 stolen bases while being caught stealing 25 times, with bulk of those coming in 2016 when he was 21-of-31 in stolen base attempts. Peraza has averaged 22 stolen bases over the past 3 seasons. Turning 25-years-old at the end of April, Peraza certainly has the youth and speed to wreak havoc once he reaches base.
The area of Peraza’s game that does give one pause the inability to draw walks. Peraza is not patient at the plate, as he has only drawn 58 walks while striking out 195 times in 1,420 at-bats. However, plate discipline can be taught and he certainly has a tremendous resource in Joey Votto.
José Peraza certainly possesses the skillset to be a difference maker at the top of the lineup. He is perhaps the closest player on the current roster that possesses the tangibles to successfully fill the role of a leadoff hitter.
It will be interesting, heading into the home series with the Atlanta Braves, to see if David Bell will elect to continue with Peraza in the one-hole or if he will shift back to the likes of Schebler or Winker with at least two of the three Braves starting pitchers for the series being right-handers.
Schebler is not hitting well right now with a slash line of .170/.267.302 and Winker needs to bat deeper in the lineup to maximize his RBI potential due to the power he is now showing with 6 home runs this season. As much as I love Votto’s ability to get on base, the two-hole is where Joey should reside.
Personally, José Peraza was my offseason vote to hit leadoff. It would most likely help settle the revolving door of this lineup to have him be established as ‘The Guy’ to jumpstart the Reds offense; at least until the Reds decide to bring that Nick guy into the picture. That’s a loaded topic for a different day. For now, the Reds need to find consistency at the top of the lineup and José Peraza can certainly provide that much needed stability.