- Rating: 5.44
- 2022 stats:134 games, .251/.316/.731, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 109 OPS+, 0.7 bWAR
- Date of birth: August 14th, 1987 (35 years old)
- 2022 earnings: $8 Million
- 2023 status: Gone, but never forgotten... Also a free agent
Ten years ago, if someone told us on the Pit that a decade from now, David Peralta would be on 35 of 44 top ten statistics list on B-R.com , I feel confident in saying that the response would have been a resounding “who??” At that time Peralta was a fry cook for McDonalds, using that job to fund his time spent in independent baseball leagues. Pitching was no longer an option, due to shoulder surgeries, and he was trying to reinvent himself as an outfielder, with dwindling routes to the big leagues available to him.
In July 2013, however, his patience and dedication payed off with a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Visalia in Class A+. Next year, he moved up to AA, then after just 50 some odd games there, got the call he had been waiting for: he was being promoted to the big leagues. The patience and perseverance had finally paid off, and the Venezuelan with the infectious energy and smile had made it.
With a strong start, and that energy, he quickly became a favorite both with the fans as well as his teammates. Over time, he earned more playing time and grew to be a face of the franchise. Steve Berthiaume gave him the nickname “The Freight Train” because of the headlong, unstoppable manner that he ran the bases, and it stuck. Soon it was on t-shirts, TV graphics, even a freight train whistle every time he got an extra base hit. He had become a legend. Along the way, he picked up a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. Not bad for a washed out pitcher.
Like any train ride, there has to be an end, and Peralta’s time with the Diamondbacks was no different. 2022 started off poorly for Peralta, with him sporting a .197 batting average on May 1st. He turned it around after that, to some extent, however, with his batting average improving to .245 by the end of May, with six home runs, but after that, settled back down into more or less an average outfielder. Meanwhile, more and more young prospects were knocking on the door, trying to take his roster spot.
Perhaps the highlight of his season came on July 3rd against the Rockies. In the top of the fifth inning, Peralta came to the plate with the bases loaded. Chad Khul threw a slider that just didn’t slide like it was supposed to, and Peralta drove it out of the park for a grand slam. It was his eleventh home run of the season, though because Coors Field is Coors Field, it did come in a losing effort. However, in the bigger picture, it was more than just a single home run. It was his 109th home run of his career, which gave him the sixth spot in Diamondbacks franchise history, breaking his tie with Justin Upton.
After that, though, his days were numbered. Just two days later, David Schoenfield suggested that moving Peralta was a trade the Diamondbacks had to make by the deadline, and, when emotion was taken out of it, it was a stance that was hard to argue with. With the likes of Varsho, McCarthy, Thomas, and soon, Carroll, looking for MLB playing time, it grew increasingly hard to justify giving those AB’s to a mid-thirties outfielder whose contract was coming to a close at the end of the season.
The ax fell on July 30th, when it was announced that the team had traded Peralta to the Rays for a catching prospect. Hazen in his comments defended it as a trade that “made sense” given the plethora of up-and-coming left handed outfielders that had already arrived to the Majors or were just weeks away, though he did acknowledge that it is never easy to trade a face of a franchise. Overall, the responses on the Pit were measured and understanding, though a few did question the wisdom of trading a veteran solely for 150 more AB’s for prospects. Mostly, though, it was just fans wishing Peralta the best.
Peralta spent the rest of the season chasing, and then winning, a Wild Card spot with Tampa Bay. He got into Game 2 of the Wild Card series as a pinch hitter. He struck out, en route to the Guardians knocking the Rays out of the postseason, then his season came to an end, becoming a free agent for the first time since he was in independent ball.
In the epiloug of his career as a Diamondback, he ended up being nominated for the NL LF Gold Glove as a Diamondback at the end of the season. It was, perhaps, a bit surprising to see him get the nomination, as he ended up with so many fewer games played there than other nominees, due in large part to the trade. When Jim looked at the statistics, though, he wasn’t an unreasonable inclusion, stacking up favorably to the other two nominees. In the end it went to JA Happ, and it was hard to be upset by that.
When all is said and done, it’s hard to argue that David Peralta, quite sneakily, was one of the best hitters to put on a Diamondbacks uniform. He’s third in games played, at bats and plate appearances, fifth for batting average, third in hits, second in triples. The names ahead of him on most of those lists? Well, its pretty much Gonzo and Goldy, with Stephen Drew, Chris Young, and Ketel Marte thrown in for good measure. In the history of the Diamondbacks, those are some pretty good names to be mentioned with.
For the better part of the 20teens, he was the heart and soul of the Diamondbacks. From being the Freight train, secret handshakes, to driving the bus and some pretty awesome post win dances, Peralta was at the heart of some of the most purely fun moments in recent Diamondback history. His impact on the culture of the team cannot be understated, including his mentoring of the younger players as his time with the team came to an end.
While no one wanted to see him go, his departure was inevitable, but we’ll always have him getting Greinke to drive the bus.