Yankees give rookie Oswald Peraza the start at shortstop for Game 2

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Oct 4, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Oswald Peraza (91) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Texas Rangers in the second inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As if Yankees manager Aaron Boone scrolled through Twitter all evening, he announced that Oswald Peraza will be starting at SS tonight for the Yankees in Game 2.

The youngest player on the MLB roster, Oswald Peraza, has just 18 games of MLB experience and is being tasked with providing a bottom-of-the-lineup spark that the Yankees sorely need. His speed, pull-happy swing, and solid power are the tools that Aaron Boone is hoping Peraza can utilize to get some big knocks, but it’s the defensive reputation Peraza garnered at the AAA level that excites the Yankees. They’ve looked for stability out of the SS position defensively, and Peraza is the right kid for the call.

Oswald Peraza Is Riding a Great Second Half

Oswald Peraza got off to a horrific start at the AAA level, as in April/May, Peraza struggled to hit for average or generate much power, but a hot month of June kicked the youngster into high gear. He hit .208 with a 64 wRC+ and 11 XBHs in 38 games, but from June onward, he hit .291 with a 131 wRC+ and 24 XBHs in 61 games, a massive uptick in performance. He found his power stroke, and it paid off, and while Peraza isn’t an exit velocity monster, he pulls a ton of flyballs which can lead to added power. Pulled flyballs traditionally perform better than opposite-field flyballs, generating more carry and, thus better results.

Peraza got off to a strong start at the MLB level as well, as despite subpar batted ball numbers (81.6 MPH EV), he managed to stay extremely disciplined, and his swing decisions were phenomenal:

  • 75.3% Zone Swing% (66.9% MLB Average)
  • 22.8% Chase% (28.4% MLB Average)
  • 49.4% Swing% (47.1% MLB Average)
  • 17.7% Whiff% (24.7% MLB Average)
  • 90.2% Zone Contact% (82.0% MLB Average)
  • 93.8% Meatball Swing% (76.1% MLB Average)

This is in an extremely small sample of just 160 pitches, and Peraza has never been the type of hitter to work walks, but his aggressiveness in the zone should bode well in a playoff environment. Pitchers typically tend to go away from their fastballs and center their approach around generating whiffs with RISP, so a hitter who can attack in the zone and make contact when they do so is vital. The power getting better will coincide with lower contact rates, but it’ll balance out into Peraza providing, solid value at the plate.

Giving the Yankees an Elite Baserunner

Oswald Peraza stole 35 bases in 40 attempts across AAA and MLB, and with his 90th Percentile Sprint Speed, he provides a great option to swipe a bag in a pinch for a Yankee team that is trying to disrupt the tempo of Astros pitching. The Astros held the Yankees to just a .560 OPS in the 2022 regular season, so there’s added incentive for the Yankees to try to manufacture runs when they can.

The baserunning value he can provide for this lineup is crucial, he’s going to be a huge factor in how the Yankees attempt to get creative as they try to topple the Astros before heading back to the Bronx.

Holding Down the Fort at Shortstop

Oswald Peraza was a highly-touted defensive prospect, and while he has -1 DRS in his small sample size at SS with the MLB team, he’s already ripped off throws over 88 MPH at SS, and his range is stellar. He’s a remarkable athlete, and he routinely makes highlight reel plays as his body control and stellar tools allow him to do things other shortstops just cannot do.

If you think this rifle throw as Peraza glides across 2nd is impressive, wait until you see this remarkable leap and accurate toss Peraza makes to convert a crucial double play:

I do not believe that one’s ability to make highlight reel plays can fully encapsulate their defensive value, but the ability to just make plays others cannot is valuable. He’s falling from his leap and somehow generates enough strength to make a solid toss and, he manages to hit Oswaldo Cabrera to convert a wicked play. His athleticism and skills at the position are unmatched by anyone else on the Yankees’ MLB roster, and while there are concerns that perhaps his nerves could cause errors, IKF hasn’t shown much poise either.

The Yankees are being aggressive at shortstop, and whether it’s later than it should have been, one thing is for certain; it’s better late than never.

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