- Rating: 5.17
- Age: Turned 34 on August 14
- 2021 Stats: 150 G, 538 PA, .259/.325/.402 = .728 OPS, 96 OPS+, 8 HR, 63 RBI, 1.1 bWAR/1.1 fWAR
- 2021 Earnings: $7,500,000
- 2022 Status: 26-man roster earning $7.5 million (final year of 3-yr/$22 million contract)
David Peralta is the longest-tenured current member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He currently ranks #5 all-time in games played for the Snakes and will likely be firmly ensconced at #3 (behind only Gonzo and Goldy) by the end of 2022. He ranks in the franchise’s top-10 in nearly every offensive category, including ranking #2 in triples, only eight behind franchise leader, Stephen Drew, giving Peralta a fighting chance of taking the lead in 2022. He’s third all-time in Win Probability Added, fifth in Situational Runs Added, and third in Base-Out Wins Added. In short, he’s been grinding out average or better production for the Diamondbacks for eight seasons now, playing somewhere between average and mighty fine defense to boot. In 2017, Peralta won the Silver Slugger. In 2018, he took home a Gold Glove for his work in left field.
The 20021 season was a down year for Peralta. His offensive numbers took a dip across the board. For the first time since his injury-plagued 2016 season, Peralta’s OPS+ dropped below 100. Still, his 2021 mark of 96 was above the league average of 94, so it is technically correct that he was still an above average hitter, and that’s the best kind of correct to be. (Shut up, Jack. I’m sticking to this take.) Peralta’s defense also seemed to take a slight step back in 2021. The defensive metrics would mostly seem to agree with the eyeball test in that regard. Father Time remains undefeated.
Still, as the Diamondbacks continued to struggle with injuries and with finding a way to win games, Peralta’s healthy consistency and reasonable contract made him an early-season trade favourite. Peralta though, was not immune to the team’s long bouts with slumping. In fact, it can be argued that Peralta’s struggles coming about the same time as the team’s are closely related. On May 2nd, Peralta finished the day hitting .300. By the end of the month, he was hitting .258. By June 6, it was down to .245. More disturbing than the declining batting average was the lack of power in Peralta’s swing. From May 1 to the June 30, Peralta posted a .234/.295/.343 triple slash, with exactly one home run. As Jack commented in a gameday thread during the slump, Peralta was playing like he did not want to be traded away.
It’s hard to argue with that. The dismal two-month performance tanked any trade value Peralta might have entered the season with. The result was, he finished the season in an Arizona uniform. The rest of the season was still not a great one for Peralta, but his numbers accrued during the period from July 1 through the end of the season at least trended in the right direction as he posted a .267/.340/.410 triple slash.
The banner day of Peralta’s 2021 season came early in the year. On April 22, Peralta went-5-for-6 with seven ribbies. The Diamondbacks needed every last bit of that contribution, riding it into extra innings before posting a 10-inning win against the Cincinnati Reds.
Additionally, Peralta’s eight triples on the season was enough for him to lead the NL in the category for the second time. We’ll take the small victories.
As the season got long in the tooth, Peralta found himself sitting more often than usual, giving some at-bats to the younger, developing players - especially against left-handed pitching. Despite ceding some playing time, he still appeared in the most games of anyone on the team and finished right behind Pavin Smith for most plate appearances. It turns out, when your team is historically bad and also beat up, staying healthy and at least average will get you plenty of opportunities. And that’s what Peralta did. In a season where Torey Lovullo spent time worrying about who to start at every other position on the field at one time or another, Peralta stayed healthy and made left field a no-brainer by also remaining productive.
2022 and Beyond
David Peralta has one final year remaining on his contract. Despite his slight bounce back over the second half of 2021, it seems unlikely that the Diamondbacks will be moving him before the 2022 season gets underway. If he has a strong showing through the first half, there will almost certainly be no shortage of suitors for his services at the trade deadline. If he struggles again, the Diamondbacks will be wishing him well when his contract expires at the end of the season. The Diamondbacks have a number of decisions to make regarding playing time in the OF in 2022. It is easy to say that Peralta should simply be sitting and that Varsho should be the primary left fielder going forward. That seems unlikely to be the scenario when the season begins. It is not at all difficult to see the Freight Train slowly losing time to Varsho (or some other rising prospect) as the season wears on. As a man known for being a positive clubhouse influence, who works hard day-in and day-out, who also happens to be the current face of the franchise, it isn’t hard to see why the team might be motivated to find ways to keep him around and engaged through the end of the year. Once the 2022 season is over, Peralta’s future is in his hands. If he wishes to keep playing, it will almost certainly be on a series of one-year deals where he has to earn all of his at-bats. If he is ready to move into a new phase of his career, it is not difficult to picture numerous ways in which Arizona might bring him back as an advisor or coach at some level. Or, just maybe, he takes all those millions he will have earned in his career and just coasts into happy retirement. Only time will tell.