The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season. This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason. More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter. Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.
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Player: Jhonny Peralta
Season stats: 157 games, 628 PA, 61 R, 38 2B, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 3 SB, 58 BB, 112 K, .263/.336/.443 116 OPS+
Hero/Goat: Hero 10, Goat 10
Overall grade: A
Positives: Set a new Cardinal team record for home runs by a shortstop, which was also well more than all the starting shortstops since Edgar Renteria combined had hit for the Cards….hit for much more power (17 HR) against righties, but his OPS against lefties (.879) was over 100 points higher….hit .301 in late and close situations.
Negatives: Ten of his home runs came in low-leverage situations, as he hit only .246/.299/.385 in the high-leverage ones….hit .249 away from Busch, though 13 of his homers were on the road….hit only .161 with an extra-base hit (a double) in the postseason.
Overview: We often think of John Mozeliak’s particular skill set as translating better to making trades than signing free agents. Yet while Peralta seems like a no-brainer selection now after a 20-home run season, we’d do well to note that not everyone was happy when he was signed. (To be fair, there are still a few that continue to hold his PED past against him.) Mozeliak knew what he was doing, however, and Peralta paid him off in spades during the first year of the contract.
While his fielding won’t win him any awards, he did play a much better shortstop than expected. He might not have had the range of a Pete Kozma, but he tended to make the plays that he could get to without muffing the obvious ones. When you are putting up the numbers he was, you take that and not ask him to be something he’s not.
Peralta was streaky and didn’t really do much against the Dodgers and the Giants this postseason, but he did enough that he earned his first year money and made a good dent on the rest of the contract. After years of weak-hitting shortstops, it was a welcome relief.
Outlook: There’s no particular reason to think that Peralta would fall off the map next season. He might not be quite as productive, but he should be well within the neighborhood, which will be a great thing for the Cardinal offense.