St. Louis Cardinals: Jhonny Peralta Will Bounce Back in 2017
St. Louis Cardinals 3rd baseman Jhonny Peralta had a very underwhelming 2016 season after returning from injury. Many fans and writers have called for him to be traded or replaced, however, there’s reason to believe he will bounce back for 2017.
The St. Louis Cardinals have repeated their goal of improving the defense time and time again since the 2016 season ended. After hearing that, many fans and reporters have tried to come up with different ways to manipulate the lineup in order to achieve that goal.
Some other fans and reporters have gone a bit further and expressed their desire to part with guys like Jhonny Peralta in hopes the Cardinals can sign someone like Justin Turner who recently signed with the Dodgers. Even ideas of signing a first baseman have become popular because that would force Matt Carpenter to return to third base making Peralta a bench bat and utility infielder.
Trading Jhonny Peralta or replacing him so that he plays off the bench is an interesting idea and one that could be fruitful. The St. Louis Cardinals didn’t seem to have too much trouble moving a guy coming off a down year in 2016 when they traded Jaime Garcia to the Atlanta Braves, so why not do that again? The Cards have Jedd Gyorko who can fill in at third or they could pursue a third baseman to fill that void.
But why not trust Jhonny Peralta? Yes, he had a rough 2016 where he batted .260/.307/.408 with 8 home runs and 29 RBI in 82 games (313 plate attempts). He also changed positions from shortstop to third base after the emergence of Aledmys Diaz. With the change, his defense took a hit and he produced a minus-7 defensive runs saved and a minus-8.8 ultimate zone rating.
With all of that said, there is still reason to believe Peralta will bounce back. That injury he suffered (torn ligament in the thumb) happens to be the same one that Yadier Molina suffered in 2015. Molina had the injury very late in the season but returned in 2016 and batted an impressive .307/.360/.427.
Molina bounced back after he was given the offseason to recover and return to form so why can’t Peralta? Peralta had more on his plate during his rehabilitation and was thrown into the MLB roster that was trying to do everything it could to remain in the race. He struggled, unsurprisingly, but still maintained to be somewhat effective. Peralta deserves a chance in 2017 to show what he still has in the tank.
Plus, Peralta severely underperformed his career averages in 2016. Over his 14-year career, he’s batted .267/.330/.425 and averaged 18 home runs and 80 RBI. And as far as defense goes, we only have to go back to 2014 to see Peralta was a decent shortstop. In 1325.1 innings as the Redbird shortstop, he posted a 12.0 UZR and 17 DRS.
Moving him to third and him being acclimated to the position mid-season was tough enough. But then asking him to do that while he also recovers from injury is near impossible. Now, with a full offseason to work out at 3rd base, the Cardinals should reasonably expect much better defensive numbers than what he produced in 2016.
Now, Jhonny Peralta isn’t likely to be his 2013-self but he very well could be a good third baseman that bats well in the 5th or 6th position. In 2016, Peralta faced adversity on both sides of the field through his injury and through his position change but in 2017, he should come into camp fully recovered and fully prepared to man 3rd base at an above average rate.
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And if I am wrong about Peralta, he only has the 2017 season remaining on his contract so The Cards won’t be tied down to him long term. The St. Louis Cardinals will also be able to be flexible down the stretch by either utilizing Gyorko or by acquiring a third baseman. Some potential third baseman replacements will be explored later this week, so be sure to tune in. Thanks for reading.
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