Exit Interview: Jhonny Peralta

For the fifth 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.

This year’s Exit Interview series is “being brought to you by” some of the various Cardinal podcasts that are out there for your listening pleasure.  Our focus this time is the Viva El Birdos podcast.  John and Heather break down all the recent happenings in Cardinal Nation with the skill and approach you’d probably expect if you are a VEB reader.  Find them on iTunes or check out the site!

Player: Jhonny Peralta

Season stats: 82 games, 313 PA, 37 R, 17 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 20 BB, 56 K, .260/.307/.408, 90 OPS+, -0.4 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 3

Overall grade: C

Positives: Hit .288 against right-handed pitchers….hit .274/.325/.403 in the second half….hit .289 in September….had a .761 OPS when he led off an inning….had a 1.129 OPS when he hit the first pitch….hit .305 when the count was even….had an .804 OPS with one out in an inning….hit .277 in late and close situations….hit .306 and had five of his home runs against relief pitching….hit .345 with a .934 OPS against power pitchers….smoked the Reds for a 1.068 OPS and three of his home runs.

Negatives: His injury at the beginning of the year sent the club looking at Ruben Tejada (though, on the bright side, that didn’t stick)….wound up having to move to third in part due to Aledmys Diaz but didn’t move back when Diaz went down….hit .182 against left-handers….hit .195 when behind in the count….had a .635 OPS with runners in scoring position, which dropped to .592 when there were two outs in those situations….hit .237 with no homers in high-leverage spots….hit .087 in his 24 first-inning plate appearances….hit .209 against the Cubs.

Overview: It’s tough, in some regards, to really know what was truly Jhonny Peralta and what was still lingering effects from the thumb injury.  When he returned from his second DL stint, things looked a little better offensively, so you could make the case that next year will see a Peralta more in line with what we have seen in the past.  I mean, he hit .284/.337/.403 after he made it back the second time and while you’d like to see a little more power, he did have 14 extra-base hits in 176 at bats.  He’s probably not going to hit 21 homers again, but he might approach the 17 that he hit last season.

Then again, thumb injuries are tough.  Hopefully the offseason gives him a chance to fully heal and put that behind him.  Peralta will be 35 at the end of May and the question is not whether he is declining but how fast the slide will be.  He’s already had to move down the defensive spectrum, so seeing what he is capable of will be one of the big focus points for next season.

Outlook: At one time, it seemed like Peralta, with his front-loaded contract almost at an end, could be a significant trade chip.  That’s still possible, though with Matt Carpenter being told he’s going to play first base next year, it would seem that the club is planning on Peralta manning the hot corner.  (That’s not set in stone, of course–a trade of Peralta could bring in a third baseman or allow Jedd Gyorko to play every day.)  If Peralta returns, though, there are worse things than seeing him hit about sixth and play third regularly.

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