I still believe in Jhonny Peralta, just not right now

Since returning from his DL stint on August 2nd, Jhonny Peralta has hit .257/.307/.371 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI. He has appeared in 42 games and started 37 of them. But those numbers are carried by a better August and have dropped in September, where he is hitting .213 and has just four extra base hits in 54 plate appearances.

I agree with a lot of Cardinals fans: It’s time to sit Jhonny Peralta.

With a 74 OPS+ in September, only Carson Kelly has hit worse on the Cardinals this month.

I know that Peralta has provided the team a great value for the past two years, but it’s time to let someone else play. Especially when you have the kind of depth, combined with hot players available right now. Jedd Gyorko is a guy who Matheny has been trying to find ways to fit into the lineup, he has 20 home runs in the second half, third most in baseball.

But where I depart with many fans is that I still think Peralta has things to contribute.

I understand why people look at Peralta’s three seasons with the Cardinals and see a 117 OPS+ in 2014, a 103 OPS+ in 2015, and currently a 79 OPS+ in an injury abbreviated 2016 and are clammoring that the 34 year old Peralta is declining. And he very well might be, but I’d also like to point out that Peralta has never been a model of consistency at any point in his career.

Since 2005, when he became a full time player in the Majors (12 seasons), he has five seasons where he has put up a 110 OPS+ or higher and now likely four seasons where he’s had a 90 OPS+ or lower. Since he started playing everyday, he has been a career 103 OPS+ player. And even that has been carried by a few very strong seasons.

Just a few years ago, Peralta posted a 122 OPS+ in 2011 and then followed that up with an 84 OPS+ in 2012 at age 30. Was he declining then too? History shows us no, as he went on to post a 121 OPS+ in 2013, and then became a Cardinal.

Even defensively he’s not ever been a defensive whiz. No matter what metric you used to consider Peralta’s defense, he was lightyears better in 2014 than he had ever been before in his career. UZR/150 likes his 2011 and 2012 season at shortstop, but when it comes to defensive runs saved, Peralta saved +17 runs in 2014. He was a career -16 defensive runs saved before that season. That’s how much of an abberation 2014 was for Peralta defensively, that he made up for a career of questionable defense in one season.

I think expecting him to be 2014 Peralta, even in 2015 was unlikely. But I feel like his numbers bounce around enough that he can bounce back. But that’s not the only reason I feel like he can once again become, at least an average hitter for this club.

He and Yadier Molina had the same surgery, and I still feel like it took until this summer before he was completely back to normal. There’s a difference between “healed” and “healthy.” I think Peralta is still somewhere in between right now. That doesn’t do anything for the team right now though.

Going into the offseason, I think we will get a much better Jhonny Peralta next year than we have this year, but with what the Cardinals have going on in the infield right now, if you can unload him, I think you have to. And I think that’s going to be the best thing for the team.