The Indians Jhonny Peralta finished the season as one of the top SS in baseball, thanks in part to injuries to Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner necessitating Peralta to get 340 AB in the clean-up spot. He certainly made the most of that opportunity, as you can see by his overall numbers:
605 At Bats
.276 (167 Hits)
23 Home Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.316 Batting Average on Balls in Play
.331 On Base Percentage
.473 Slugging Percentage
The number that jumps out at me is the runs, which is nearly 20 runs higher then his previous career high of 87. In fact, he was coming off three consecutive seasons between 82-87, so I don’t think anyone expected him to make the kind of jump that he ultimately did.
The real question is if he will be able to duplicate that type of success. Part of it will depend on the line-up construction by the Indians, but given the struggles of Hafner & Martinez, even when active, it would appear that he will be heavily leaned upon once again. Will he be batting fourth consistently? I don’t tend to think so, but I guess anything is possible. Still, even if that is the case, I definitely don’t see him eclipsing the 100-run plateau for a second straight season, though 90+ would certainly be reasonable.
With a career average of .268, there’s no reason to believe that he won’t once again be in the .275 range. He’s proven he can do it in the past and over the course of his entire career.
The HR number was not even a career high, having hit 24 back in 2005. In fact, he’s been over 20 three of the past four seasons. Yes, he had the disappointing 13 home run campaign sandwiched in there in 2006, but after bouncing back nicely for two straight seasons, that should not be a concern at this point. That season he had a disappointing 9.2% Home Run/Flyball ratio, which he has obviously improved upon, with 2008 being 13.1% (his career number is 13.0%).
He will turn the magical age of 27 in May of 2009, so there is the chance that he takes the next step forward, though I wouldn’t count on him suddenly becoming a 30 HR hitter this season. Still, a new career high certainly should not come as a surprise.
He will also have the potential to set a new career high in RBI, which he set last season. Again, I wouldn’t expect him to reach 100, but if he is indeed slotted back into the middle of the line-up, there is the potential to see him reach 90.
.275 (164-597), 26 HR, 91 RBI, 90 R, 2 SB, .315 BABIP, .336 OBP, .464 SLG
You think those would be usable numbers? When I posted my final 2008 rankings I said that Peralta would likely be a Top 5 SS this season, and I would think that those numbers would put him right on the border of that.
Obviously, there’s a good chance of him falling a little bit short of this projection, possibly in the high 80’s for RBI and R. Still, he’s continued to mature over the past few seasons and it is very possible that he takes the next big step. I’m expecting him to be hitting in the middle of the order at this point, just giving him that much more potential to become one of the top SS options in all formats.