Can Jhonny Peralta Rebound in 2010?

Jhonny Peralta headed into 2009 as a player many people thought would help buoy their middle infield, providing power from a position that was generally viewed as a source of speed.  After hitting over 20 home runs in three of the previous four seasons, who could blame them?

It wasn’t only that, however.  After injuries forced Peralta to spend the majority of his time in the middle of the Indians order in 2008 he responded with career highs in RBI (89) and Runs (104).  There just wasn’t much not to like about him.

Of course, one year later, the views are significantly different.  Though he will qualify at shortstop for 2010, it is likely the last time he will, now the team’s third baseman (where his numbers simply don’t measure up).  That will surely impact his long-term value, but for this season we can still value the power potential from a shortstop.

If all that wasn’t enough, 2009 was an extended struggle for Peralta, posting the following numbers:

582 At Bats
.254 Batting Average (148 Hits)
11 Home Runs
83 RBI
57 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.316 On Base Percentage
.375 Slugging Percentage
.314 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Before we get into specifics, it is interesting to note how similar his 2009 campaign was to his 2006 season (.257, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 84 R).  He bounced back from that disaster to post very good 2007 & 2008 seasons, so keep that in mind as we go through this analysis.

The average comes courtesy of a realistic BABIP, but there are two factors that contributed to his fall.  First of all, the decrease in power.  A home run is not a ball put in play, so if you hit fewer, your average is going to take a hit.

Secondly, his strikeout rate rose from 2008, going from 20.8% to 23.0%.  However, the three prior seasons saw him post:

  • 2005 – 25.4%
  • 2006 – 26.7%
  • 2007 – 25.4%

He proved that he could hit for a respectable average despite the strikeout rates (he’s a career .266 hitter with three seasons of .270 or better).  I’d look for him to rebound in the upcoming season.  While it’s not likely that he’s going to hit .290 or better, he’ll surely be usable.

The power is probably the number that is most worrisome for owners.  He saw drops in both his flyball rate and home run per flyball rate, which certainly helps to explain the tumble.

From 2005 through 2008 he had flyball rates of 35.0%, 33.6%, 34.6% and 36.2%.  That certainly makes his 30.6% rate from last season stick out like a sore thumb, doesn’t it?

If the decrease in flyballs isn’t disconcerting, the fall in his HR/FB adds fuel to the fire.  After posting rates of 14.0% and 13.1% the prior two seasons, Peralta saw his rate drop to 7.9% in 2009.  At 27-years old (he turns 28 in May), can we really think that he has suddenly lost all his power?  People made that mistake after 2006, only to see him come roaring back.

The most promising number from his 2009 season is certainly the RBI, his second highest total of his career.  If he could do that while he was struggling so mightily, if he can gain some power back you have to think he can drive in even more runs.

With all that said, let’s take a look at my early projection for him in 2010:

.270 (155-575), 22 HR, 85 RBI, 85 R, 2 SB, .320 BABIP, .334 OBP, .440 SLG

With Victor Martinez now in Boston the likelihood is that Peralta remains in the middle of the Indians lineup.  That is going to provide him opportunity and I am expecting him to rebound back the numbers he proved capable of posting in 2007 and 2008.  As I’ve said, we’ve seen him post disappointing seasons in the past (2006), but came right back so it is tough for me to simply say that he’s washed up and can’t rebound.

Early on, that’s what fantasy owners are expecting, with an ADP placing him in the 17th round of 12-team mixed leagues.  With the numbers I’m expecting, that’s a bargain, especially if you miss out on the top shortstops.

What are your thoughts?  Will Peralta rebound in 2010?  Is he a sleeper you’d consider taking?

Make sure to check out some more of our 2010 projections, including:

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Top 45 Starting Pitchers for 2010: Take Two
Is Aaron Harang Worth A Late Round Pick?

One comment

  1. Frank Kim says:

    I certainly hope Peralta bounces back since because of your post I’m going to draft him. :-)
    It was a choice between him and Orlando Cabrera and while Orlando might be a little better because of the steals Peralta has more upside.
    Thanks for the great post. :-)

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