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Giants: Signing Wandy Peralta for 2020 was the right decision

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 19: Wandy Peralta #60 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 19, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 19: Wandy Peralta #60 of the San Francisco Giants pitches in the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 19, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
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Reliever Wandy Peralta had a brief stint with the San Francisco Giants this past season. The team inked him to a 1-year deal for 2020.

The San Francisco Giants used the expanded rosters in September as an opportunity to audition several bullpen arms, including Wandy Peralta.

Peralta was designated for assignment by the Cincinnati Reds in early September, and the Giants quickly scooped him up to see how he would perform in a different ballpark.

Across 5.2 frames, the left-handed reliever posted a 3.18 ERA with five strikeouts while wearing the Orange and Black. This sample is too small to make a judgment.

Despite this, the Giants have decided to retain Peralta:

To his benefit, Peralta has one minor league option remaining, so he offers San Francisco Giants team president Farhan Zaidi the type of roster flexibility he seeks.

With that being said, Peralta has had an up-and-down career in four seasons with the Reds and Giants. Across 157 innings, the 28-year-old has produced a 4.93 ERA and a 5.01 FIP. Additionally, he has recorded 125 strikeouts, 78 walks, and allowed 22 home runs.

As a southpaw, Peralta does not have the type of platoon splits that would make him a valuable, situational pitcher, though he has proven to be tougher on left-handed hitters:

  • Right-handed hitters: .281/.360/.447 line with 13 home runs in 389 plate appearances
  • Left-handed hitters: .249/.343/.398 line with 9 home runs in 312 plate appearances

On the surface, these are not great stats, but a dig beneath the hood reveals some interesting trends.

The first trend is that Peralta has extreme home and road splits. He has spent much of his career with the Reds organization, which means that the Great American Ballpark was his home ballpark until being claimed by the Giants.

This ballpark is not on the same level as Coors Field, but it remains one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball. Pitching there can be a cruel challenge, and one where much of Peralta’s struggles have taken place:

  • Home: 6.37 ERA, 16 home runs allowed, 67 strikeouts, 41 walks (opposing hitters: .313/.392/.511)
  • Away: 3.52 ERA, 6 home runs allowed, 58 strikeouts, 37 walks (opposing hitters: .215/.309/.330)

In a small sample, Peralta has proven to be a more effective pitcher on the road, especially when it comes to limiting the long ball.

Peralta’s performance on the road is likely what appealed to Zaidi, and leads one to believe that he is a better pitcher than his career stats suggest.

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Either way, these splits are still relatively small, but given his arbitration cost, it is worth it to see if Peralta’s road splits hold weight. Obviously, a change from the Great American Ballpark to Oracle Park can do wonders for a pitcher.

The second trend is Peralta’s fastball velocity. The 28-year-old averaged 95.3 MPH on his fastball in 2019, and his average fastball has never dipped below 95 MPH in his four-year career.

With a power fastball like this one, especially from the left side, there seems to be a gap between his pitching ability and his performance. This is not unlike the situation Trevor Gott was in last season when the Giants claimed him off of waivers from the Washington Nationals.

Baseball is trending in the direction of looking at underlying stats to uncover hidden potential, which is why Peralta remains intriguing. Eno Sarris of The Athletic points out that front offices are putting more weight into peripheral stats such as fastball velocity.

Lastly, the Giants have a need for left-handed relievers after seeing Will Smith walk in free agency and declining Fernando Abad‘s 2020 option. Outside of Tony Watson, Peralta is the only left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster with a major league track record.

This proved to be advantageous to Peralta. Since his 2020 salary sits below $1 million, there was very little risk in tendering him a contract. Despite the brief audition in 2019, the Giants seem willing to see if Peralta can turn into an effective reliever now that he is away from the hitter-friendly confines of the Great American Ballpark.

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