Changing My Mind on Jhonny Peralta’s Defense

I’m beginning to think that fears over Jhonny Peralta’s defense (or lack thereof) at shortstop spiraled out of proportion since he was traded to the Tigers last season. No, he’s never been a “plus” defender, but we all spoke of doom, gloom, and every single ground ball skipping through the infield.

That hasn’t been the case. So far on this young season, Jhonny has recorded a UZR of +1.8 (standard extremely small sample size warning applies). And if we go back through 2008 (selective endpoints, I know) he’s a total of +3.0 runs in UZR.

My goal here isn’t to cherry pick the data and say that he’s a good defender (he isn’t that good) or to even say that he’s above average at the shortstop position (he’s probably not), but I think we all need to change our mindset with respect to his glove. He’s been far from terrible in the field over the past few years.

If we go back and add in his time at third base since 2008 (484 games), Jhonny comes out with a -2.6 UZR (combined SS and 3B). That’s equal to a UZR/150 of -0.8 (combined SS and 3B). So since 2008, Jhonny has been less than one run worse per season than an average fielder. That’s a number I can live with, especially since Jhonny’s hitting ability is above average for the position.

Dave Dombrowksi was able to sign Jhonny to a two year deal worth a total of $11.25 million in the offseason. To “earn” that money, Peralta will have to accumulate somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.8 WAR over this year and next. So far this contract is looking like a solid one. We’re still less than a quarter of the way through the first season, and he’s already racked up about 0.7 WAR (average of 0.8 FanGraphs WAR and 0.6 Baseball-Reference WAR). It’s still early in the contract, but he’s “on pace” to give the Tigers double their price in value.

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Topics: Jhonny Peralta

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