There’s nothing like a baseball season and its effect on a player. 162 games. Seven months. Lots of travel. Day to day action. Little rest mentally. St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Jhonny Peralta has been a steady player since he arrived in St. Louis in November of 2013. He played in 157 games last season and has played in 138 games of a possible 142 games this season. That’s serious work and something that must be taken into account when trying to locate the demise in Peralta’s production since the All Star break. The big picture outlook has Peralta’s production slowly slipping since the end of May. Let’s look at it from April to September.
April-.316 batting average, .825 OPS(slugging plus on base percentage)
May-.306 BA, .941 OPS
June-.274 BA, .720 OPS
July-.262 BA, .737 OPS
August-.242 BA, .612 OPS
That’s the thing about stats. The simplest ones can draw a picture big enough for any fan to see. Since the end of May, after a great start to the season, Peralta has delivered big hits but not as consistent as before. Is this wear and tear? It’s hard to avoid pointing how the Cards don’t have a reliable backup for Peralta at shortstop, or at least one they believe in. Peralta has played in more games this season than any Cardinal starter. The drop in Peralta’s slugging percentage is particularly telling.
Peralta’s reputation isn’t hitting 30 home runs and driving in 100 but he is depended on in this lineup hitting 3rd or 4th to produce runs. Jhonny Peralta hasn’t hit a home run since August 1st and his OPS since the All Star break is .626 with just three home runs. The Cards don’t have huge depth on the ML roster that exists as exciting at the position. How much can you lean on a player before he crumbles? Outside of Yadier Molina, no player on the team has been leaned on more than Peralta.
What’s wrong with Peralta? Wear and tear. He’s played in 298 games out of a possible 304 since arriving in St. Louis. I’m sorry folks but that’s where the Tulo comparisons hit a halt. JP is in a massive slump but there’s nothing physically wrong with him. His stats are right in line with his career rate, especially when it comes to average, on base and slugging. 2015’s season hasn’t been as power packed as 2014 but overall his WAR of 1.7 won’t reach his 2014 rate of 5.7(baseball reference).
With 20 games to go, Peralta can pick things up and finish better but a little rest wouldn’t hurt. Rest helps players more often than not. While it’s not common to sit everyday players in a stretch run, Peralta looks burnt. There’s room there to let Jhonny find a little mental clarity.
How does Peralta get rest? Play Greg Garcia. The kid comes up with big game changing hits and hasn’t gotten a real shot. While Peralta will more than likely keep on grinding, turning Garcia loose wouldn’t hurt and you can see what the kid has in store for the future as Peralta’s age and contract start to climb.
Jhonny Peralta’s value to this club is underrated and will never be appreciated as much as it should. He needs to get right. The Cards need to address this sooner rather than later. Plug in Garcia. Find some rest for Peralta, especially as some missing bats filter back into the lineup. In the end, it will benefit both player and club.