Key Stats: Jhonny Peralta has not been a consistent source of much of anything since he became a full-time player in 2005 with the Indians. He's had three seasons with 15 or less home runs and 4 seasons with more than 20 home runs. A pretty significant difference when evaluating a player's value. He's also had two seasons with an aveage over .290 (including last year) and three seasons where the average fell under .260. He's never stolen more than four bases in any season either. Yet we live in a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society and Peralta is coming off a 2011 season in which he was 89th in the Yahoo player rater formula. And most of the peripherals weren't far away from the player he's been his whole career. The BABIP was a touch higher than we're used to seeing and the HR:FB% was actually a touch lower than his career rate (makes sense playing in Comerica). Chances are Peralta will come down a little from that 89th ranking, but he's 30 years old. He should be a starter in mixed leagues.
Skeptics Say: Nine out of ten players that I have ranked ahead of Peralta are going to steal double digit bases in 2012. Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Derek Jeter, Elvis Andrus, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jimmy Rollins, and Emilio Bonifacio are all solid to excellent sources of stolen bases. That said, if Peralta is the pick at shortstop for your team, that is forcing your hand at another position to draft steals. Depending on the parameters of your league perhaps handcuffing Dee Gordon with the Peralta selection is a way around this issue.
It is also a little concerning that Peralta dropped off in the second half last year. The differential in his first and second half OPS was 154 points.
Peer Comparison: One player that falls below Peralta in these rankings, but ahead of him in the three rankings from "What They're Saying" is Erick Aybar. The upside of the two players is essentially the same at ages 28 and 30. Looking at last year's numbers, Peralta is the better choice. Aybar finished ranked outside of the top 100 in Yahoo's player rater and was the lesser player in home runs, RBI, average, OBP, and slugging percentage. And while Peralta has been inconsistent throughout his career, last year was a breakout for Aybar. It doesn't necessarily mean that he can't build on that season, but Peralta seems like the safer option.
Lineup Outlook: The Tigers have saved Peralta from the path of fantasy irrelevance. Not only is he hitting better since the trade in 2010, but he's back to being a full-time shortstop. Peralta hit either 6th or 7th in the order for a team that finished fourth in baseball in runs scored. Not much will change in 2012 and the Tigers could actually be better. It is highly unlikely the team will bring back Magglio Ordonez who is going to be 38 next year and is coming off of a terrible season. It is possible that Delmon Young will be much better than Ordonez as he fell pretty far from 2010 to 2011 and is in a contract year next season.
Projection: The average should take a slight dive, but everything else could get better if the lineup gets better around him as it is expected to.
72 R 22 HR 85 RBI 1 SB .273 AVG .335 OBP .815 OPS