Cincinnati Reds: José Peraza shows his value in victory

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates scoring during the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: Jose Peraza #9 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates scoring during the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 08, 2019 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

To say that this season has been a disappointment for José Peraza would be an understatement. But, he showcased his value during the Cincinnati Reds’ 4-1 win over the Cardinals.

When David Bell released his starting lineup for last night’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals, a lot of Reds’ fans voiced their displeasure via social media. Why was José Peraza starting in left field? Well, Peraza let his play do the talking last night and he was key in the Cincinnati Reds‘ 4-1 victory.

First, let me say that I understand the fan frustration. With the way Derek Dietrich‘s been playing of late, it’s perfectly legitimate to question why he’s not getting regular reps at second base regardless of who’s on the mound.

However, David Bell seems to know what he’s doing and José Peraza rewarded his manager’s faith  with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate last night. Peraza also scored a run, drew a walk, and stole a base.

On top of that, Peraza made a fantastic catch early in the ballgame that probably saved a run. With the Cardinals already leading 1-0, St. Louis had runners on first second with one out. A softly hit fly ball by Matt Wieters looked like a sure hit, but Peraza raced towards the ball and made a fantastic sliding catch for the second out of the inning.

With two on and one out in the top of the fourth inning and the Cincinnati Reds still trailing 1-0, José Peraza came up with a clutch base knock that scored José Iglesias and knotted the game at 1 apiece. Peraza would later come around to score on a 2-out double by Nick Senzel, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.

Yasiel Puig‘s homer and Luis Castillo performance on the mound are sure to get a lot of attention, but make no mistake, José Peraza was the catalyst for last night’s victory. While he may not be getting the playing time that he’s used to, Peraza still holds tremendous value for this Cincinnati Reds team this season and into the future.

While this season hasn’t gone the was Peraza would’ve liked, his role gives Bell a lot of options. José Peraza’s value this season is as a right-handed bat off the bench, late-inning defensive replacement, and a spot starter all over the field.

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The 25-year-old from Venezuela has played all over the diamond this season. Peraza has seen the majority of time this season at second base, however, he’s also moved around from shortstop to center field and also to left field. Peraza’s versatility will be key for him going forward this season.

José Iglesias has entrenched himself as the starting shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds this season. With both he and Peraza being right-handed, there’s no way that David Bell can even platoon the two based on the pitching matchup.

When Scooter Gennett returns from injury, there’s already going to be a battle for playing time. Derek Dietrich’s tremendous play of late has garnered him the majority of starts at second base, especially against right-handed starters.

Peraza’s value to the team, as currently constructed, is that of a utility player. Now, after the trade deadline, his role with the team could definitely shift towards more of a regular in the lineup. Don’t forget that Peraza was to be the starter at shortstop before the injury to Gennett.

I still feel as though the Cincinnati Reds view José Peraza as their long-term answer at shortstop. Whether the Reds decide to move José Iglesias at the end of the season or let him enter free agency, I don’t see him as part of the team for the long haul.

The Reds have been patient with Peraza over the years and he’s been equally as patient with them. Until last season, he never really had a secure starting spot on the roster. Last season Peraza rewarded Cincinnati by leading the league in singles and came within a few hits of Barry Larkin‘s team record for hits in a season among shortstops.

Over his last seven games, José Peraza seems to have found some life in his bat. Peraza is slashing .300/.391/.500 with 6 hits, a home run, and 3 RBIs. More impressive has been his patience at the plate.

While strikeouts have been a bugaboo for him this season, the lack of walks have also plagued Peraza. However, his 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio over the last 7 games is a welcome sign. Peraza has 27 strikeouts and 11 walks on the season. After striking out in 19 of his first 89 at-bats, he has only 8 in his last 75 ABs.

If Peraza is able to take advantage of the now limited opportunities he has, David Bell’s confidence in him is only going to increase. José Peraza was looked at, by many before the season, as a candidate to have a breakout season. It just hasn’t panned out yet.

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What the rest of this season has in store for José Peraza is anyone’s guess, but for the Cincinnati Reds to be successful this season, he has to get back to the player we all expected to see coming into the season. Peraza still has a bright future and I still view him as an important part of the franchise’s future.