Fantasy Baseball: Don't Overpay for Jose Peraza

The young second baseman is set to see regular playing time for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017. Is he being overvalued?

The Super Bowl is behind us -- which means many fantasy sports nerds (like myself) can now turn their full attention to basketball, hockey, and baseball prep for upcoming drafts.

A quick glance at early NFBC draft data shows that yet again, early fantasy baseball drafters are really high on another young prospect -- Jose Peraza of the Cincinnati Reds, who is expected to see regular playing time in 2017, albeit in a utility role since Brandon Phillips continues to exercise his no-trade clause.

Peraza is ranked as the 12th-best second baseman overall -- ahead of guys like Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, Jedd Gyorko, and Logan Forsythe. But a closer look suggests this might be a massive draft-day gamble.

Speed Kills

If there's one area of the game where Peraza excels, it's swiping bags. Across multiple levels with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and Reds, the numbers have been fantastic. It's a big part of the reason why he's been a centerpiece of not one but two trades over the last few seasons.

Season Organization Plate Appearances Stolen Bases SB%
2011 Braves 269 28 10.4%
2012 Braves 228 25 11.0%
2013 Braves 504 64 12.7%
2014 Braves 499 60 12.0%
2015 Braves/Dodgers 546 36 6.6%
2016 Reds 578 31 5.4%

For some context, Jonathan Villar, lead the MLB last year by swiping 62 bases in 679 plate appearances for a stolen base per plate appearance rate (SB%) of 9.1%. While Peraza's numbers have tailed off a bit in 2015 and 2016, he's certainly shown the ability to be an elite base-stealing threat across multiple levels.

Blurry Vision

Peraza has maintained a fantastic batting average throughout his professional career, including a career-high .339 mark across two stops in 2014.

What hasn't been so great, however, is his walk rate. Peraza's best mark at any stop is 8.0% -- which is a bit misleading since it came in only 25 plate appearances in a cup of coffee with the Dodgers in 2015. If we look at all his stops during the last two seasons, the numbers have been extremely putrid.

Season Level Batting Average Walk Rate% OBP
2015 Braves AAA .294 3.5% .318
2015 Dodgers AAA .289 2.1% .304
2015 Majors .182 8.0% .250
2016 Reds AAA .281 6.5% .333
2016 Majors .324 2.7% .352

In 2016, the league average on-base percentage (OBP) was .322, meaning Peraza's low walk rate has led to some pretty average OBP numbers. While his stop in the majors in 2016 provides some hope, the downside is obvious -- if he's not on base, it's pretty hard to steal. It's a big reason why that SB% has dropped drastically over the last two years.

One Category Wonder?

Another problem with drafting Peraza so high is he doesn't offer much in the way of any other fantasy category outside of batting average.

He's yet to score 80 runs or more or drive in 50-plus runs in any of his first combined six seasons. The power numbers are also far below average -- in his eight professional stops where he recorded at least 100 plate appearances, Peraza has only recorded an Isolated Slugging Percentage (ISO) greater than .100 once.

Season Level Plate Appearances HR ISO
2011 Braves Rk 269 1 .060
2012 Braves A 136 1 .057
2013 Braves A+ 504 1 .083
2014 Braves AA 304 1 .113
2015 Braves AAA 195 1 .086
2015 Dodgers AAA 427 3 .084
2016 Reds AAA 322 2 .094
2016 Majors 256 3 .087

Things could change as he matures -- he's entering just his age-23 season, after all -- but his immediate value shows there's limited upside outside of steals for a rebuilding Reds team.

But how does he compare to the others we mentioned who are going just after him? If we use 2017 Steamer projections from over at FanGraphs, it's hard making an argument for Peraza over some of these established vets.

Name ADP Average OBP Runs HR RBI SB
J. Peraza 140 .282 .317 52 6 41 26
D. Pedroia 142 .289 .355 84 12 64 7
B. Zobrist 169 .270 .365 68 13 58 5
L. Forsythe 242 .258 .329 74 17 60 8

Not Worth the Current Cost

As the 12th-ranked second baseman per current NFBC draft data, Peraza is currently a starter in a 12-team league -- but it seems tough to justify that current cost.

While he possesses great speed, a poor walk rate and offering little else in other counting categories decimates his value. If you're playing in a league that utilizes OBP instead of batting average, Peraza should fall even further down the list. His stolen bases have also suffered because of his struggles in other areas, which provide an even lower ceiling to his value.

If we compare him to the three second baseman slotted behind him, the current ADP data is a bit confusing. For example, while Peraza does possess a better average and speed numbers than Forsythe, he is at a large disadvantage in terms of runs, home runs and RBI, all while being drafted 102 slots before him. In a 12-team league, that's a premium of about 8.5 rounds you'll have to pay.

Drafting the up-and-coming prospect can be fun, and hitting on one before your buddies is huge. However, betting on Peraza to be that player in 2017 just doesn't seem very likely at this point.