Two Former Indians Leading Tigers’ Surge in the Standings
By John Parent
Jhonny Peralta delivered a pinch-hit two run homer yesterday in the eighth inning off Twins closer Matt Capps, a shot that temporarily gave the Tigers a one-one cushion. As Matt noted in his piece last night, Peralta has been on fire of late, hitting .417/.455/.793 in his last eight games.
By the time the Indians traded him to Detroit last July, Peralta had become a the whipping boy of Tribe fans and media members alike. Who could forget Bruce Drennan’s meltdown following one particularly frustrating Indians loss early last season? I did my best to try to post the video of this, but apparently All Bets Are Off fell victim to MLB Advanced Media’s copyright tyranny. Not sure how a talk show can violate those terms (there were no highlights involved), but whatever.
Peralta’s Indians career was the definition of inconsistent. An .885 OPS one season, followed by a .708 the next year, followed by a couple of years at .771 and .804, respectively, before he fell to .690 in 2009 and .698 in 2010 before the trade. In that time, Peralta was durable, averaging better than 560 at bats per year, but his defense was below average and he wound up being moved to third base by the Tribe.
Since coming to Detroit, Peralta has played the overwhelming majority of his games at shortstop and while his range isn’t ideal, he has provided a steady, if unspectacular glove. His offense picked up a bit in just over 200 at bats with the Tigers in 2010, but this season he has seen a resurgence to the tune of an .820 OPS in 34 games.
Peralta is still just 28 years old (he’ll be 29 later this month) despite being in his ninth big league season, so there really isn’t any worry about his skills declining due to age. His inconsistent past does lead me to wonder if this is simply an “up” year for him and if we won’t see a “down”year next season, but it certainly could simply be the case of a player needing a change of scenery to re-discover his focus.
Maybe LeBron James wasn’t the only guy that had to leave Cleveland to find his greatest success as an athlete. Too soon, Cleveland?
VMart Ties Club Record
Speaking of former Indians, Victor Martinez has been on some kind of tear recently. Yesterday, Martinez had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. In that time, VMart has a line of .500 (20-for-40)/.556/.800/1.356 with two homers, six doubles, and 14 RBI. Yesterday’s three runs batted in gave him a streak of three straight games with at least three RBI (he had 10 total in those three games), matching the longest streak of games by a Tigers player with at least three RBI in each game. The feat has been accomplished a few times, but the last to do it was Dan Gladden in August of 1993. In his last three games, Martinez has reached base safely in 12 of 15 plate appearances, collecting nine hits in 12 at bats. Six of those nine hits have gone for extra bases.
How important has VMart been since coming off the disabled list on May 4?, The Tigers have won seven of eight games since then with Martinez batting .500 with an OPS of 1.483 in those eight games. Miguel Cabrera has hit just .148 with a .545 OPS in that same span. There’s no way the Tigers win seven of eight if Victor wasn’t there to pick up the slack. Given that Cabrera usually does the majority of the damage, my gut says they probably would have lost seven of eight without VMart.
On May 3 (the last day before Martinez came off the DL), the Tigers trailed Cleveland by eight full games in the standings. There were columns being written about how, even at that early stage of the season, the Tigers were in a deep hole that would be tough to overcome. Just eight games later, the Indians lead over Detroit has been trimmed to 4.5 games.
And a pair of former Indians have lead the way.
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