Mental toughness was a big challenge! For the first time in 2022, the Diamondbacks faced the Dodgers in a three game series. In the first game the Dodgers shutout the Diamondbacks.
In the second game, a ray of sunshine emerged. The score was tied 3-3. In the top of the inning Ian Kennedy got in a jam – bases loaded and one out. A double play ended the inning with the score tied.
In the bottom of the inning, reliever Brusdar Graterol entered the game. In his first 6 appearances he had not allowed an earned run. Leadoff batter Cooper Hummel walked. Next, David Peralta was up to bat facing the Dodgers’ awesome reliever. His mental strength was magnificent. He hit a homer that added .269 win probability (WPA).
And the team followed his lead. Mark Melancon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers! As a bonus, the Diamondbacks won the next game and the series.
His homer, more than anything, marks his breakout this season.
In May, David Peralta hit two more homers, so far. His ninth inning 2-run homer against the Rockies felt amazingly like winning the game. Those runs made a positive difference in team attitude (swagger was the word spoken by Luis Gonzalez) because the Rockies loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. The Diamondbacks won!
Pivotal plays show Peralta ranks first.
David Peralta is the oldest position player on the Diamondbacks. His Major league debut was in 2014, meaning he has been a Diamondback longer than any player currently on the team. Let’s look at 300 Diamondbacks’ batting events with the highest Win Probability Added (WPA) from 2014 through April of 2022.
Nine players accounted for half the Diamondback’s top 300 batting events. David Peralta ranked first with 26 events.
Batters who top this list are often worth keeping; four of the top nine remain Diamondbacks. Of the five non-Diamondbacks; three are in the majors and two are in the minors.
Details are in the following table:
In April, four Diamondbacks had five batting events that are in the top 300.
- Sergio Alcantara, homer with .305 WPA, and fielder’s choice with .259 WPA.
- Daulton Varsho, homer with +.489 WPA. In May, Varsho’s homer against the Rockies, +.29 WPA, will be on the updated list of top events.
- Seth Beer, homer with .275 WPA.
- David Peralta, homer with .269 WPA.
Although he had no events in April, last season Pavin Smith had four batting events in the top 300. In May, his homer against the Marlins had an impressive +.65 WPA.
My view is that Daulton Varsho (2 events currently) and Pavin Smith (5 events currently) have great potential to exceed 10 events during their careers with the Diamondbacks.
Peralta’s OPS was better against right handed pitching.
That makes sense because Peralta bats left handed. Through 3 May, his splits show an OPS of .782 against right handed pitching vs an OPS of .282 against left handed pitching. That’s a huge split. As you might expect, he is a platoon outfielder with 75 PAs against righties and 11 PAs against lefties.
Two statistics suggest that his breakout was based on high WPA batting events, when skill and experience make a large impact, and not his overall performance.
- This season through 3 May, his .782 OPS against right handed pitching is better than 2021, but less than 2020, 2019, and 2018.
- This season through 3 May, his .895 OPS with men on base is much better than his .601 OPS with bases empty.
Peralta batting performance improved this season.
His three big improvements were powerful: consistency, higher average launch angle, and more swing velocity. I predict his batting results will continue to improve.
Through 3 May, two statistics that show consistent plate discipline:
- His 10.5% walks was a career high.
- His 37.3% sweet spot was a career high.
My view is standing up for yourself can start very simply by saying what you like and what you don’t like. The same is true for improving yourself.
“I was very, very inconsistent last year, and I don’t like that.” — David Peralta 2022
Through 3 May, his 21.6 degree average launch angle is in the optimal window, and was a welcome improvement on on the previous five seasons which were less than 7 degrees.
“He’s getting them up in the air and also driving them the other way.” — Joe Mather 2022
Through 3 May, his 90.5 mph average exit velocity is his highest since 2018, when it was 91.5 mph.
Although Peralta did not hurt a muscle, recently I hurt a shoulder muscle (no surgery needed). Because of the injury I learned something. Many muscles in the shoulder, neck, and back work together. In two rehab sessions I learned 8 stretching and strength building exercises for specific muscles. I do them three times each day and the result was more range of motion.
After three weeks abstaining from pickleball, last week I played pickleball. I enjoyed it beyond mere words. My perception was that I’m better than ever, although good enough to have fun might be more accurate.
“The main focus was to make him [David Peralta] more mobile, create more range of motion, and allow more velocity in his swing.” — Byran Wright, 2022
This season, David Peralta’s homers made a positive difference in critical situations. Since his debut as a Diamondback, his 26 top-300 pivotal batting plays ranked number one. His improvements in consistency, launch angle, and swing velocity will continue to improve his batting statistics.