Well, that was exciting. The initial results came in with Geraldo Perdomo having squeaked out a win by one vote over Christian Walker. But, it turned out that Chronicles of the Desert had voted twice, switching his choice from Perdomo to Zach Davies. After I deleted his original ballot, that led to a tie between Perdomo and Walker. However, I had not voted: I typically don’t, since I prefer to be Switzerland, holding the coats, and letting everyone else fight it out. In this case, however, I cast the deciding vote to break the deadlock - think of me more like Nancy Pelosi, with a smaller portfolio of shares. :) Choosing between Perdomo and Walker I went for Perdomo, so we were back where we started: Geraldo Perdomo by a single vote.
While there’s no denying Walker was the better player in 2022, he was also considerably more “sung”. Leading the team in most offensive categories inevitably brings with it a fair deal of attention. If there were a category for over-performance, Walker would win it in a landslide, considering a lot of people were peeved he was even tendered a contract this year. But being “unsung” is kinda different. Perdomo was basically unknown coming into 2023, having appeared in just eleven major-league games to that point. He was expected, at best, to be a back-up to Nick Ahmed. But Ahmed’s shoulder led to him being shut down late in spring, and his return lasted only a month, before surgery ended his season entirely.
It was an Ahmed injury which led to Geraldo’s debut in 2021, but this was much more serious. As a result, the 22-year-old Perdomo was this time pushed, by necessity, into an everyday role, and ended up playing in 148 games, more than anyone else bar Daulton Varsho and Walker. Indeed, it was comfortably the most EVER appearances by a player his age or younger in franchise history. The previous high was 138 games by the then 21-year-old Justin Upton in 2009. Nobody else bar Upton has even passed 120 appearances in a season. Even across all thirty MLB teams, only one player Perdomo’s age got as much playing time this year: Bobby Witt of the Royals, and he came fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Admittedly, you would be hard pushed to mistake Perdomo for Aaron Judge. Geraldo just fell short of qualifying for the batting title, but his OPS of 58 was dead-last among the 132 players in the majors with at least 500 plate appearances. Indeed, since the end of 2016, Kevin Newman on the 2021 Pirates is the sole NL player with as many PA and a lower OPS+ (56). In Geraldo’s defense, there’s no denying that his lack of experience was a factor. Never mind the major leagues, Perdomo played just 111 games above A-ball in the minor leagues, before becoming the team’s everyday shortstop in 2022. He had to do a lot of learning on the job, in the thoroughly unforgiving cauldron of the world’s highest tier of baseball.
Yet, he didn’t disgrace himself, by bWAR he provided a positive contribution on both sides of the ball: 0.8 oWAR and 0.7 dWAR, for an overall total of 0.7 bWAR. That may seem small beer compared to some of our other rookies, but again: age and experience. When Jake McCarthy was 22, he had not appeared above High-A ball, rather than being an everyday starter in the big leagues. As Makakilo noted in his player review, Perdomo was the best contact hitter on the team, with a 12.7% swinging strike rate, and 80.8% contact rate, with a credible K:BB ratio (again, considering age and experience). His arm strength was also impressive, rating in the top quarter of players at the position.
Yet if ever there were a player who flew under the radar, it was Perdomo. I’ve just done a Google search for articles about him, and while there were a couple from early in the season, he received almost no coverage thereafter. In a rare exception, Torey Lovullo talked about the young hitter: “I think he’s got an unbelievable eye. He can survey that zone and make good decisions on where he wants to go with the barrel. I think he’s getting more barrel awareness with where his swing is, especially from the left-hand side. If he’s got the right approach, he’s a very tough out. He’s a good hitter.” While his long-term situation is cloudy, with the likely arrival of top prospect Jordan Lawlar, I think we’ll see quite a bit of Perdomo in 2023.
Below is a highlight reel of some moments from 2023, including all five of his home-runs (Perdomo bcame only the second Diamondback to hit a grand-slam for his first career home-run) and some defensive gems.