By Chris Haft
When you're doing a roll call of the National League West's best players, remember to include David Peralta.
The 33-year-old has mastered both corner outfield positions for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has demonstrated consistency by compiling a .291 career batting average, hitting below .275 only once in eight Major League seasons. He captured a Silver Slugger award in 2018, when he established personal bests for home runs (30), hits (164) and total bases (289). He also was named a Gold Glove winner for his defensive excellence in 2019, when he started 91 games in left field and finished atop his position in range factor and total zone runs.
The longer Peralta sustains his excellence, the more improbable his baseball beginnings appear.
Peralta entered organized baseball in 2004, when the Cardinals signed the left-handed hitting and throwing Venezuelan for a $35,000 bonus. In 18 appearances (10 starts) during three seasons, Peralta compiled a 2-6 record with a 5.69 ERA. Shoulder injuries and a pair of surgeries prompted St. Louis to release him in May 2009. Two years later, he found himself toiling for the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings of the independent North American League in 2011. Peralta played for two more independent clubs, the Wichita Wingnuts and Amarillo Sox, before he joined the D-backs organization in 2013. By then, Peralta had metamorphosed into strictly an outfielder. He batted a rousing .346 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 51 games for Arizona's Visalia outpost in the high-Class A California League. That propelled ascent to the Majors.
Already 25, Peralta continued to prove that he was intent on compensating for lost time. After opening 2014 with Double-A Mobile, he made his Major League debut on June 1 when outfielder A.J. Pollock required surgery for a fractured right hand. Starting in left field, Peralta rapped two hits in four at-bats in a 4-3 loss to Cincinnati. He proceeded to tie a franchise record with seven multi-hit efforts in his first 15 games. Peralta maintained his robust offense through the remainder of his rookie campaign, hitting .286 in 88 games.
He established himself as someone to depend on for the D-backs a year later, leading the National League with 10 triples while hitting .312, which remains a personal high. His run production was healthy, as evidenced by his 17 homers and 78 RBIs.
Injuries limited Peralta to 48 games and a .251 average in 2016. He rebounded for the D-backs during the following year by hitting .293 in 140 games. Having truly established himself, Peralta duplicated that average in 2018 while reaching career highs with 164 hits and 30 homers.
Chris Haft has covered Major League baseball for more than 30 years, a tenure featuring a 2007-19 stint as the San Francisco Giants' beat writer for MLB.com. Haft has authored or co-authored three books on the Giants, most recently "From the Stick to the Cove," the autobiography of longtime clubhouse manager Mike Murphy. Follow Chris on Twitter (@goodforball).