The Dodgers are flush with high-end hitters in Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, and J.D. Martinez, and they rightfully get the majority of the attention. However, David Peralta has surprisingly been one of the team’s best hitters this season. The lefty has been rather unlucky as he has an xBA of .297 compared to a batting average of .265 and xwOBA of .342 which is 35 points higher than his wOBA.
Those numbers were certainly not anticipated earlier in the season after he hit just .136 in the month of April with a single homer, compared to June where he’s hitting .352/.397/.574 to go along with three homers. An extreme disparity in numbers like that raises multiple questions amongst fans. Is he just on a hot streak and he will eventually return to come back to earth, or should we expect him to continue hitting well the rest of the season?
The chief reason Peralta has turned into a better hitter as the season has gone is the overall improvement in his quality of contact. In April his average exit velocity sat at a more-than-respectable 90 MPH. Across the month of May it saw an uptick to 91.1 MPH and in June he has averaged 92.8 MPH. His hard-hit rate has also seen a steady increase. In April he was putting balls in play at 95 MPH or greater 47.3 percent of the time whereas in June he is currently sitting at a hard-hit rate of 58.7 percent.
In addition to that his strikeout rate has dropped every month. In April it was 17.8 percent whereas in June it is at 13.8 percent. Four percent in the grand scheme of things really doesn’t sound like a significant number but a higher rate of putting the ball in play is always going to result in better expected metrics.
Peralta has never been a player who draws a high number of walks, but his walk rate has also seen a steady uptick. In April it was just 2.9 percent, a sign of a jumpy hitter who isn’t working counts. In June however it is sitting at 6.9 percent which is far closer to the 8.4 percent he had in 2022.
On top of all of those metrics, his batted ball profile has also seen a notable improvement. His ground ball rate was 54.5 percent in April, whereas this month it is 45.7 percent. His line drive percentage has been the main beneficiary of this going from 20 percent in April to 30.4 percent in June.
Nothing with Peralta so far are signs that point to regression. There are no stats I see that make his numbers deceiving or make me say this is going to result in him regressing over the course of the season. Really, it’s more so how sustainable are certain aspects of his game at the moment. His line drive percentage of 30.4 percent would be the third-highest mark in a single month in his career. The average exit velocity of 92.8 MPH would be the highest it’s been in a month since May of 2016. Additionally, his hard-hit rate would be the highest it’s ever been in a month.
Those numbers tell us it is borderline impossible to keep this up over the course of the season because it’s so against the grain of the rest of his career. Traditionally 35-year-olds don’t suddenly become stronger hitters and work the ball in the air with more consistency. It is almost always the other way around as they normally struggle to make hard contact and consistently put the ball on the ground. But the good thing is whilst those numbers help us assume regression will come at some point, there’s not a single number that indicates his success is due to luck or anything of that nature.
As annoying as it is to say, Peralta simply has to regress to the mean at some point. Sure, you could argue that maybe he found something in his approach or swing that he’s changed that had led to this sudden increase in numbers but that’s not overly probable. Is Peralta a .298 xBA hitter at this point in his career? No absolutely not, but with how good he’s been this month it is not out of the question to say he’s a .270 xBA hitter this year with an xwOBA of around .320, two numbers the Dodgers organization and their fans would certainly jump at.