Exit Interview: Jhonny Peralta

For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.   Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

Player: Jhonny Peralta

Season stats: 155 games, 640 PA, 64 R, 26 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 71 RBI, 1 SB, 4 CS, 50 BB, 111 K, .275/.334/.411, 102 OPS+, 1.8 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 9, Goat 19

Overall grade: B-

Positives: Tied for second on the team in home runs….may have been the team’s first half MVP, hitting .298 with 13 of his home runs before the break….hit .306 with six homers in May….hit .320 when he was in the fifth spot in the order….hit .364 when up 2-0 in the count….hit .297 with five home runs the first time he saw a reliever in a game….basically split his HR between home and away and between righties and lefties….had a wonderful moment July 6 when he belted the game-winning, come-from-behind home run against the Cubs.

Negatives: For whatever reason (perhaps fatigue), fell apart in the second half, hitting just .243….only hit two home runs after the July 31 trading deadline….went 2-for-14 with just one RBI in the NLDS….while he hit nine homers against lefties, his batting average against them was just .238….hit only .222/.311/.278 with two outs and runners in scoring position….had a .697 OPS and just four of his HR in high leverage situations.

Overview: Rarely does a player nosedive like Peralta did this season.  Like I said above, if you gave out a first half MVP, he probably gets it.  When you coupled that with the 21 home runs and all around play that we saw out of Peralta last season, it looked like everything was going to be a bed of roses.  Now, it’s not that people want him run out of town on a rail, but there’s questions about just what Peralta will give the club next season.

Was this a case of fatigue?  There really wasn’t any backup for Peralta, with Pete Kozma being there just for his glove and Greg Garcia not coming up for good until late in the season.  Peralta had two games where he was the DH and pinch-hit in six games.  The other 148, he was out there manning the dirt between second and third.  Peralta hit .293 in his last 17 games, but that was after having a couple of days off and he got a couple more days in that span.  There are strong arguments for fatigue, though we can’t be sure that’s all there was to it.

Outlook: Peralta will turn 34 in May so there’s no real reason to believe there’s going to be an age-related decline, at least not a sharp one.  With a better backup allowing him a few more days off, Peralta might return to the form we saw in 2014 and the first half of 2015.  If not, at least the contract was front-loaded and the cheaper years are 2016 and 2017.  It’ll make any lack of production a little easier to bear.

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