FOX Sports’ Just A Bit Outside writer Dave Cameron went straight to the Arizona Diamondbacks when a friend asked him who he thought was MLB’s most underrated player.
It’s A.J. Pollock, naturally.
Then, Cameron wondered whether an established player who became an All-Star this year — and has been talked about quite a bit — could really be the most underrated man in baseball. Moving on from Pollock’s candidacy, Cameron didn’t stray far in determining his final most underrated player.
He settled on Pollock’s teammate, fellow outfielder David Peralta, who coincidentally got his first major league crack last year once Pollock went down with a hand injury.
Peralta checks all of the boxes for a classic underrated player. He’s a solid contributor across the board with no real glaring weaknesses. He lacks a standout skill that shows up in the highlight reels. He got to the big leagues late, and his arrival was accompanied with zero fanfare. While previous indy leaguers have generally topped out as solid role players — Daniel Nava and Chris Colabello are two of the other success stories — Peralta looks like he might be blossoming into one of the better all-around outfielders in baseball.
Peralta, of course, began his professional baseball career as a pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. Injury forced him off the mound, but he reset his career as an outfielder in the independent leagues before the D-backs noticed and signed him to their minor league program.
Peralta made his MLB debut last year and as a rookie slashed .286/.320/.450. This year, he has become more seasoned at the plate under first-year manager Chip Hale’s tutelage, and to this point is slashing .303/.368/.520.
Perhaps what has helped Peralta on his winding path of a professional baseball career is his knack for thriving under pressure.
Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa praised the outfielder for becoming the team’s four-slot hitter and protecting slugger Paul Goldschmidt this season.
“This elephant in the room about we need somebody to protect Goldy, that’s a huge, huge responsibility, and David has stepped up and said, ‘Hey, it’s me, man,’ ” La Russa said Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7’s Doug and Wolf show.
La Russa said that Peralta has no “what-if” moments at the plate. In other words, he’s not worried about failing.
“David has gone to bat concentrating what the pitcher is throwing … the essence of a pressure player, and what a lift he has given us,” La Russa said.
Soon enough, that should be good enough for more baseball fans to notice Peralta.
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