Though I am certainly not a believer in the myth of lineup protection, the Detroit Tigers would be the example people would like to use. Batting around Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, other hitters like Torii Hunter and Jhonny Peralta have enjoyed greater success this season than in years’ past. Peralta’s success, however, can be attributed to his own play and not strongly to outside factors.
Peralta’s advanced statistics are a mixed bag. Components of his success look like pure good fortune, while others are a sign of good plate approach and strong hitting. Peralta is maximizing his offensive production, hitting substantially more line drives than ever before. After batting below .255 in three of the previous four seasons, Peralta’s .333 batting average can be somewhat attributed to the increased line drives.
The real factor in Peralta’s increase in batting average is his .411 BABIP. While the increase in line drives certainly represents a component of the increase, a good portion of this must be considered luck. With a career BABIP of .314 – including a figure below that in four of the past five seasons – that should continue to decrease as Peralta ages and loses speed.
With an increasing strikeout rate and decreasing walk rate, no one would expect Peralta to take such a massive leap in production. Fan Graphs’ Dave Cameron projected Peralta to be an All Star, and that selection would likely be warranted based on the dearth of AL shortstops and Peralta’s success. However, if one scouted the metrics and factors rather than simply the results, it would be evident that Peralta’s success is more of a short-term mirage than anything else.
Gabe Isaacson is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @gabeisaacson.