While Stephen Piscotty is the hot toddy of the moment and Jason Heyward is turning up the jets on the extra base hit plank, I beg to ask a simple question. Where would the St. Louis Cardinals be without shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s steady flow of production in the field and at the plate? It’s become something you expect, like the sun rising every morning. Peralta just keeps hitting, making plays in the field and generally gets zip on the major networks because he isn’t loud enough and doesn’t hit enough home runs. And his name isn’t Kris Bryant.
The Cards offense has been leaking oil since June, but Peralta has kept the vehicle moving. He was doing this before Piscotty showed up, as Heyward’s bat was still thawing out and Matt Carpenter’s bat was missing. Without Peralta, I think this team is without a few key wins and the success wouldn’t be as sweet.
Peralta’s finest trait is durability. Since he put on the birds on the bat, Peralta has played in 276 games out of 285 possible games, and assembled a fWAR of 7.8. That’s not bad for a guy who wasn’t exactly met with the cheeriest of greetings back in November of 2013 upon signing a 4 year deal worth an annual value of 13 million.
Entering Monday’s action against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Peralta’s offensive stats aren’t going to blow minds but they have been steady. Jhonny has 16 home runs, 56 RBI, 24 doubles, .285 batting average, .342 on base and .446 slugging percentage. He has lost a bit of power in August but just polished off a 5-10 performance in San Diego.
On the defensive side, Peralta has gotten job done. He isn’t going to add a gold glove to his shelf any time soon, but Peralta has a lean and mean .991 fielding percentage. Four errors in 452 chances. He makes the plays and makes it look as if his feet aren’t even touching the ground.
People may want more attitude, emotion and all together swagger out of Peralta but it isn’t going to happen. He’s a quiet soldier who goes about his business like a pro. He isn’t flashy but he produces. He is on pace for a similar season to last year’s efforts, with Fangraphs having finishing with 20 home runs, 73 RBI and an average right around .279. Take it. I’ll take that every year from Peralta.
People love the theme park ride allure of Randal Grichuk, the all around tenacity of Piscotty and Carpenter, but this lineup could use a couple more Peralta’s. Guys who can pop a home runs when needed(the Wrigley rescue shot), get a hit, make a play and resist going into a massive slump. He just keeps playing and it’s a good thing, because the only guys standing behind him are Pete Kozma and Greg Garcia, who the Cards can’t seem to resist sending back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis. At a position needing consistency and on a team full of injuries, Peralta has been there every day for the Cards.
While it may not be flashy and Sportscenter worthy, Jhonny Peralta’s value is quite clear. He’s not a life saver, but he sure is important to this band of Birds.