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The Always Under-appreciated Jhonny Peralta

In this post you will discover why Jhonny Peralta is a forgotten man among SS options in fantasy and why you should not be the one to overlook him.

Jhonny Peralta is fantasy's forgotten shortstop. It's time to give him some love.
Jhonny Peralta is fantasy's forgotten shortstop. It's time to give him some love.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

So, I was going to write a post playing Devil's Advocate with everyone's favorite young shortstop, Carlos Correa, finding his faults and trying to point out his weaknesses. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything to suggest he will be anything but great in 2016, so I was on to plan B.

Plan B is giving some love to the most underrated shortstop in fantasy baseball. This guy has consistently produced offensive numbers that would be acceptable at second base or maybe even third, let alone short. He has been used as the third or fourth hitter in the Cardinals lineup, showing how much they trust his offense. He was the third or fourth hitter in nearly every game he played last season.

Let's take a look at his last two seasons to see just how good he has been.

Season G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG
2014 157 628 21 61 75 3 9.20% 17.80% 0.18 0.292 0.263 0.336 0.443
2015 155 640 17 64 71 1 7.80% 17.30% 0.136 0.311 0.275 0.334 0.411

AVG OBP SLG BB% K% ISO wRC+
Jhonny 2015 0.275 0.334 0.411 7.80% 17.30% 0.136 105
Avg SS 2015 0.256 0.307 0.375 6.30% 17.40% 0.119 85

I put the second table in there to show just how much better offensively he has been than the average guy at his position. His 105 wRC+ last season was the third best among all SS that qualified for the batting title (Lindor and Correa didn't get enough AB). Even if you lower the bar to 200 PA, he's still #10 for overall offensive production. Look at that table again. He's well ahead of the league-average shortstop in average, OBP, slugging, BB%, ISO and wRC+.

And, although he struggled in the second half last season, he may have been dealing with some unseen injuries. There isn't anything specific we can point to that explains his second half swoon (wRC+ of 127 in first half, 74 in the second half). Here's something odd: he crushed lefties at home last season (wRC+ of 127) like he always has, but he had a weird reverse platoon split on the road, where he had a wRC+ of 74 versus lefties and 115 against righties. He's always been about 10% better against left handed pitching in his career, so this is a strange phenomenon. If that returns to normal, he could actually see an increase in production overall next year.

My point in this post is that even if he doesn't improve next year, he's still a top 10 shortstop in all leagues. His consistent production in homeruns, runs, RBI, and average, with a prime lineup spot and solid walk and strikeout rates makes him a low-risk, high-floor option. Yes, he's going to be 34 this year, but I don't think that means he is suddenly going to fall apart. He has played nearly every game for two years in a row and he only has one season in the last 10 with less than 570 PA. He finished as the #10 SS on ESPN in 2015 and he can do it again. Here are Steamer and the Fans' projections for 2016:

Year Projection G PA HR R RBI SB BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG
2016 Steamer 131 553 14 58 63 3 8.20% 18.40% 0.144 0.302 0.262 0.327 0.406
2016 Fans (13) 144 604 17 66 73 4 8.30% 18.00% 0.148 0.304 0.267 0.331 0.416

Both projections give him something very close to what he did in 2015. That's good news, since his high floor is what we are looking for. If you're drafting Peralta you want low volatility. You're not interested in a high ceiling. His lack of upside is what keeps him at the bottom of the top 10, but the options around him have much less proven history.

Brandon Crawford, Elvis Andrus, and Addison Russell all have very real downside. Crawford had just 10 HR and a 0.389 slugging in 2014, and 9 HR and a 0.363 slugging in 2013, so can we trust his sudden power surge in 2015 at age 29? Andrus has never had much power and his steals are in a three year decline. His batting average is in a four-year decline. That's not very hopeful. Russell, who I actually do like a lot this year, put up very pedestrian numbers last year in his first partial season and bats behind the pitcher in Chicago. That's Peralta's competition near the end of the top 10 at this position, so you can see why, despite being a "boring" and "unsexy" option, he's a great pick in all leagues.

Don't buy into the non-hype surrounding Peralta. He's a solid pick and the type of value selection that helps win leagues. Every team needs some consistent veterans to balance out the highly variable young guys. Tschus!