Projection Series: SS Jhonny Peralta


Over the next few weeks, I will review Tiger players by position and try to project, using modern day baseball metrics, their expected performance for the upcoming season. Like John Verberg’s Prospect Series, this should be a fun exercise that gives a nice overall view of the Tigers big league club, in their quest to win a world championship. I will be using an aggregate of fangraphs projections, which are typically pretty accurate. I will also be using fangraphs WAR formula. Typically, they have ZIPS and MARCEL up as well, but for some reason they have yet to be published this year. Fangraphs also incorporates the reliable Bill James, RotoChamp, and also fan projections, which are surprisingly reliable. Using an aggregate of these projection systems should us give a nice middle ground. Without further adieu, here we go!

2012 Aggregate projection:
600 PA 18 HR 77 RBI 7.8 BB% 17.4 K% .162 ISO .304 BABIP .272/.330/.434 .764 OPS 0.0 Fielding

Why he may exceed projection
Last year, Jhonny Peralta was one of the most dependable Tigers. He had an all around career year, and focused on more of a fly ball approach, hitting 44% of balls into the air, vs. his 36% career average. This gave him more power than he had seen in a few years, and carried over to a .179 ISO. Jhonny walked only 6.9% of the time last year, down a couple of points from his career average. He could see that go back up a couple of points this year. His BABIP last year of .325 was not out of the ordinary, for him so it is entirely possible that he bests the projection on that front. If Jhonny continues his power output from last year, and has even similar luck, he should have no problem putting up another .800 OPS season.

Why he may do worse than projection
Like I said before, last year was a career year for Peralta, posting a 5.2 WAR, and highs in every OPS category. He also had a stellar fielding year, putting up a 9.9 UZR, where he’d never even put up a positive number before. He only made 7 errors last season, which is spectacular. That number should rise this season, especially since Jhonny will be on the wrong side of 30 come mid season. At a 0.0 UZR, that will take a full win away from 2011. Last season, Jhonny suffered from hitting infield flies at a pretty alarming rate of 11.3%, and if those easy outs continue, it will be hard for him to keep his BABIP at even the level of the projection, since fly balls are obviously easier to catch. A downtick in BABIP, in addition to a slight normalization of HR/FB% like in years previous, would make Peralta something like a .250/.315/.410 guy, like he was in his first two month stint with the Tigers in 2010.

My projection
It seems like Jhonny really has figured something out with his approach, as long as he doesn’t let his poor August and September affect it. He only had an OPS of .700 in those two months, while he was putting up unprecedented ~.900 OPS the rest of the season. It is important to note that Peralta’s home run game is a bit lucky, too. He was near the top of the league last year with 9 “just enough” home runs. This isn’t surprising, since all of his home runs are to left field, and also, seem like they always land in the 5th row. It’s hard to predict whether or not that will happen this season, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, he’s been doing that his entire career. I believe his BABIP and power numbers will be right in the middle of the projection and last season, and therefore predict around a .780 OPS for Jhonny, and don’t see a big downtick from last season in the hitting department. As far as fielding goes, he should see a pretty dramatic increase from last season’s 10 UZR. He’s never put up a season like that before, but even as a 0.0 or league average SS, he’s still an effective player. With those aforementioned numbers, Jhonny should be somewhere close to 3.7 WAR player for next season, and even around that number, he’s a top 10 SS in all of baseball.

What do you guys think?