On Monday, Scott Strandberg wrote that everybody is paying too much for Jose Peraza. The statement is based on NFBC ADP which has him going a round or two earlier than what I’ve seen in expert mocks. I wonder if it’s just the NFBC crowd that’s paying too much.
Scott makes good points, although I have some counter arguments. Peraza is going before high floor second basemen like Ben Zobrist, Logan Forsythe, and Neil Walker. Seemingly, you should pass on Peraza and take a vet, right? No, you should (probably) take both. At least, that’s how I build my rosters.
Peraza is being picked after most of the best base stealers. Rajai Davis is the big name going later in drafts. Peraza also happens to have very useful eligibilities while Davis is just an outfielder. The use case for selecting Peraza hinges entirely on your need to make up ground in the stolen base category. If you already have A.J. Pollock and Jonathan Villar, then the only real use case is to protect your lead in steals. Generally, I recommend against going nuts with drafted stolen bases.
The problem with Peraza is his power. Specifically, he doesn’t hit home runs. Thanks to a super friendly home park, I’m confident he’ll accidentally pop between five and 10 next season. He hit five last year including three in the majors. In this fresh new hell of home run megaliths, Peraza is a big drain on the category.
That’s not a difficult problem to solve. Let’s re-inventory the pros – category breaking speed and all kinds of eligibility. The Reds are going to use him as their ninth man even though he’s one of the five best position players on their roster. They’ll shuffle him all over the field to get five-ish starts per week.
You should use him the same way. It’s a Monday or Thursday and the Reds have a game? He’s in the lineup. Your platoon guy is facing a same-handed pitcher? Get over here Jose! Clayton Kershaw is pitching? Newp, switching to Peraza. By using him as a quality backup, you remove all pressure from his bat. He can help you make up steals in situations where all you want are non-terrible plate appearances.
Remember, because you’ll be taking Peraza at a time when there are still many useful starters, I only recommend this strategy if you’re hurting for steals. It’s not Plan A. Now…
This article was titled the Poor Man’s Peraza. We’re still talking about the real thing. Let’s do the ol’ Player A, Player B game. I’ve stripped out plate appearances because they’re a dead give away.
In this simplistic sense, the two players were very similar. Player A probably experienced a pinch of BABIP luck so we should expect a slightly lower triple slash going forward. He came to the plate 256 times and hit three home runs. Player B batted 622 times. He also posted a lofty BABIP, although he has a much longer track record of BIPping at this level. He hit six home runs.
So now you know the first guy is Peraza. Player B is Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez. The two have some differences at the plate. Peraza is hyper-aggressive, so much so that I struggled to find a good comp. Juan Pierre, Dee Gordon, and Ben Revere are kind of similar.
Hernandez had a breakout season at the plate due to a lofty second half OBP. It’s…less than clear he can retain any semblance of that walk rate. We do know he has no challenges in his path to playing time. He’ll start at second base almost every day. The downside to that is a lack of multi-position eligibility. Just as you shouldn’t plan to start Peraza, you really can’t start Hernandez.
With only 17 steals, Hernandez doesn’t look like a viable backup for stolen bases. However, his 17 swipes came on 30 attempts. His instincts failed him in 2016. Hernandez allied with teammate Odubel Herrera to rule over the TOOTBLAN kingdom. Presumably, the Phillies will invest in helping both of their speedsters. Since the team remains bad, Hernandez should attempt another 30 or more steals. He went 19-for-26 in 2015 so it’s not a stretch to think that he could reach somewhere in the range of 25 to 30 steals over a full season.
In most leagues, Hernandez can and should go undrafted. He’s a streaming pick. When he’s facing the Mets – especially Noah Syndergaard – take a share. Same deal when you need a steal on Mondays and Thursdays. He’s a switch-hitter with a superior swing from the right side of the plate. Target bad left-handed pitchers if you’re looking for a batting average boost.
For typical 12 team leagues, Hernandez will spend most of the season bouncing on and off rosters. If somebody picks him up more permanently, good! Their roster must be a wreck. Otherwise, just keep tabs on the matchups. Take him when you need him. Cut him when you don’t.
One parting caveat…if Hernandez somehow miraculously maintains his 15.7 percent second half walk rate, he’s worth a permanent bench role similar to Peraza. That would produce the desired 25 steals to go with a good batting average and over 100 runs.
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