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Jhonny Peralta adequate in the field, at the plate

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Every weekday between now and mid-November, we'll be looking closer at a Tigers player. For more information on the series, including a schedule, please check this post out.

In some ways, 2010 was a contract year for Jhonny Peralta. Some believe that an athlete will play especially well in the contract year in order to net himself a bigger deal when he gets to the offseason. In Peralta's case, his contract came riding with a team option for 2011 that would be worth $7.25 million to him. If he played well enough, the Indians would pick it up. If not, then he was to become a free agent after the season.

We know it didn't quite work out that way. Peralta became a Detroit Tiger in the month of July after Brandon Inge suffered a broken bone in his hand, and Peralta immediately gave fans and team executives alike a nice show with a two-homer game his first time in the Old English D. However he began to cool off a bit after that and put up nearly the same rate numbers as he did in Cleveland.

One change that gave him the opportunity to add to his value was that Detroit decided to move him to shortstop when third baseman Brandon Inge returned from the disabled list. This meant numbers that are on the light side from the power corner suddenly look a lot better if he's playing one of the toughest positions on the field reasonably well. He did just that in Detroit. It wasn't a thing of beauty, maybe, but his defense proved adequate to the Tigers.

Did he do enough to earn his option for 2011? It's hard to say. The Tigers didn't immediately pick up the option, so they're working on their own numbers and projections right now before deciding on whether to do that or offer him a different contract.

What did I think? Peralta did well enough in Detroit, actually, but I have my reservations about how he'll perform over the course of the entire year.

C+ for his time with the team, but I could see arguments for giving him a B.

At the plate:

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2010 28 TOT AL 148 615 551 60 137 30 2 15 81 1 0 53 103 .249 .311 .392 .703 94
2010 28 CLE AL 91 373 334 37 82 23 2 7 43 1 0 32 69 .246 .308 .389 .698 95
2010 28 DET AL 57 242 217 23 55 7 0 8 38 0 0 21 34 .253 .314 .396 .710 92
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/19/2010.

Despite appearances otherwise, Peralta was nearly the same batter in Detroit as he was in Cleveland. Whether you think that's good or bad depends on your perception of his career in the Indians uniform. Indians fans perceive it to be pretty poor, I've heard.

I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't point out those stats were above-average for a starting shortstop in the American League. As well, Peralta had above-average power for a middle infielder and drove in a fair amount of runs. ... He spent most of his season batting fifth or sixth, which is a bit higher in the lineup than you'd expect for a guy with an OPS of .700, so he had a lot of opportunities there.

In the field:

The scouting report on Peralta's defense depends who you ask. TangoTiger lists him both on the Indians page and the Tigers page for the 2010 Scouting Report. At both locales, he is rated as below-average defensively for his reaction, range and hands, and a bit above average for throwing strength and accuracy. The Indians' voters just happen to see him waaay below average for his range, and they have for years. (I guess that explains why Cleveland moved him to third base.)

Now if you look at his Ultimate Zone Rating, the story isn't quite as bad. He was awful as shortstop in 2006 and 2007, but more or less average in 2008. As a third baseman in 2009 and 2010, he was a couple of runs below average. He returned to shortstop in Detroit, where he was again a bit below average.

By any measurement, Peralta is a below-average shortstop.

What 2010 tells us about 2011:

A number of things make Peralta's next season a hard one to predict. In the past, he has had above-average production, only to see it slip away the next year. He's really only had one great season at the plate, but he has been above average (especially for as shortstop) several times. He his stats for the past three years have been in a downward slope.

His OPS in Comerica Park through the years:

2006 - .394

2007 - .633

2008 - .665

2009 - .548

2010 -- .589

That is quite worrisome if he is signed to continue his career playing half his games in Comerica Park.

However, he just finished his 28-year-old season. He cut his strikeout rate in 2010. He showed a slight uptick in power production. His batting average for balls in play fell 38 points below his career norm, caused by a sudden upswing in the number of fly balls he hit. He could build on his improvements with better "luck" in 2011, but he's going to have to swing for the fences less.

Overall, based on the trends, I believe his 2011 would be worse in Detroit than the overall stats he put up.

Resources:

I used Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, and TangoTiger's Fan Scouting Reports.