Jhonny Peralta, and yes that is how you spell his first name, was one of the more valuable infielders in baseball in 2011. How is that possible when he didn't hit .300 (he hit .299), didn't reach 25 homers (he had 21), didn't knock in 90 runs (he had 86 RBI), and didn't even score 70 runs (he had 68)? The simple answer is that he was a really strong overall performer who also qualified at two spots in 2011 – shortstop and third base (in deeper leagues he also added two other “positions” to his value by also qualifying at middle and corner infield). While he will only qualify at shortstop in 2011, his value this past season was greatly enhanced because of the copious amount of injuries that the third base position suffered through (see: 2011 Positional Review - Third Base). At the end of the day he was a top-15 performer at both third base and shortstop, not bad for a guy who likely wasn't drafted until at least the middle rounds of your mixed league draft. What can you expect from Jhonny heading into 2012?
This was the fourth time that Peralta hit 20 homers in a season, though it was the first time in three years that he pulled off the trick. After hitting just 26 homers in 2009-10, what was the key to his turnaround? A career-high fly ball rate of 44.2 percent certainly didn't hurt, nor was a 3-year high in his HR/F rate of 10.8 a detriment. Does that mean he will regress in 2012? It's possible, but if he continues to hit so many balls in the air, he's been over 43 percent the past two years, he should be able to push 20 homers again (especially since his career HR/F ratio is actually 11.1 percent, slightly above his mark in 2011).
What about his batting average you ask? That's more concerning than his run producing output. All of those extra fly balls don't bode well for a strong batting average as his GB/FB ratio has dipped to below 0.85 each of the past two years. An average performer in the line drive category, Peralta posted a 20.0 percent mark in 2011, just off his 20.1 career mark, and right on the big league average of 19-20 percent. So, could he sustain his .325 BABIP mark from 2011? Certainly he could, especially when you consider that he owns a .314 career mark Still, his .325 mark was a five year high, so there might be some regression here, especially with his ever increasing fly ball rate. Also, common sense tells you that his .299 batting average, a career best, will regress. Not only does Jhonny have a mere .268 batting average on the back of his ball card, he'd also been under .255 in 2009 and 2010 and hadn't hit better than .270 since 2005.
Peralta's value, as I stated at the top, if a bit muted for 2012 given that he will no longer carries with him third base eligibility (he didn't play a single game there in 2011). Peralta is also likely to see a regression in the batting average category, perhaps a substantial one (remember he was .031 points clear of his career mark in the just completed season). In addition to those concerns, Peralta is coming off six year bests in OBP and SLG which further supports the position that expecting a carbon copy of his 2011 effort in 2012 is likely asking too much. Don't take this analysis to say that Peralta has no value, but a guy who has hit .268 in his career, who has three steals the past three seasons, and a fella who last scored 70 runs in 2008 because of a lack of an ability to get on base isn't someone to heavily target on draft day, not with his positional eligibility limited.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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