Peralta Taking Game to New Heights in Deep Tiger Lineup

jhonny-peraltaJason Beck of suggests that it might be time to stop labeling this as just a hot start for Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

It may be time to recognize that he’s taken his game to a whole new level.

After his first 4-for-4 game of the season on Monday, Peralta is batting a meaty .341 so far in 2013, tying Baltimore’s Chris Davis with the second best batting average in the American League (behind only Tigers teammate Miguel Cabrera).

Until 2013, Peralta was notoriously known for slow starts in April. He bucked that trend this season, hitting .292 with a .743 OPS in what was the best opening month statistics wise in his career. And speaking of career bests, then came May.

With three days left in May 2013, Peralta has already posted the best offensive month of his career, with the exception of pure run production. He’s batting .400 with eight doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs.

He leads all AL shortstops in hits (60), batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.392), slugging percentage (.500) and the ever important wins above replacement (2.1).

Before Monday’s game, Detroit manager Jim Leyland was asked about his 31-year-old shortstop.

“Jhonny is one of the most regimented players I’ve ever seen as far as preparing himself,” Leyland noted. “He’s very quiet, very methodical. We were very fortunate when we got him. This guys is like an old shoe. He’s a good big league player.”

It’s hard to pinpoint what Peralta is doing different that has allowed for such a dramatic improvement to his numbers. When asked, Peralta offered that it might be that he is reacting better to inside pitches, and to other things pitchers are doing to him.

It’s likely a combination of Peralta maturing as a hitter in the manner he described, and the fact that he is in a much better position to get pitches to hit within this loaded Tigers lineup than he has been in the past.

Peralta is a really good player. Scouts have known it. In turn, opposing managers have known it. And in turn, opposing pitchers have known it and made it a point to prepare for it.

However, teammates Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are legitimate superstars. Being sandwiched within the same lineup as those two has allowed Peralta to fly further under the radar when it comes to opposing scouting reports than has been typical throughout his career. It has also allowed him to hit in better situations.

Peralta has posted two months of consistently spectacular offense. At this point, I agree with Jason Beck; this has been going on now for too long to simply be a hot start. Peralta has elevated his game to new heights within this Detroit lineup, and has posted numbers worthy of an All-Star selection. Hopefully the fans recognize what he has done in time to get him the Midsummer Classic start he deserves this year.


About Matthew George

Matthew George graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He spent three years writing sports for the Kentucky Kernel, the university's daily paper, and served as assistant sports editor. After undergrad, Matthew attended Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University where he earned his juris doctorate. He is now admitted to practice law in Kentucky and Indiana.

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