After sitting out a 50-game suspension and only making it back for the final three games of the 2013 regular season, Jhonny Peralta will be the ultimate X-factor for the Detroit Tigers in the 2013 ALDS. The Tigers had no trouble closing out the AL Central and playing out the stretch run without Peralta in the lineup, but his bat will be a welcomed addition to their lineup, giving Detroit a dimension they haven’t had over the past two months.
For the season, Peralta hit .303 with 11 home runs and 30 doubles, making him far more productive than either Andy Dirks or Matt Tuiasosopo, the two players who replaced Peralta in the sixth spot of the Tigers’ batting order. As the sixth batter in the Tiger’s lineup, Detroit won’t be overly reliant on Peralta, at least compared to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who the Tigers need to carry their offense throughout the postseason.
But if Peralta can be productive in the postseason and add depth to Detroit’s lineup, he can be an important difference-maker for them.
Of course, putting Peralta in the lineup means playing him in left field, as the Tigers acquired Jose Iglesias to be their shortstop following Peralta’s suspension. Peralta playing a position he’s less familiar with makes him more of an X-factor because the Tigers don’t necessarily know what to expect from him defensively. As much as Peralta could give Detroit a huge boost offensively, he could also end up costing them if his defense doesn’t hold up.
Tiger’s manager Jim Leyland appears intent on putting Peralta on the postseason roster and in the starting lineup when the ALDS gets underway, making Peralta the ultimate X-factor for Detroit. He’s a talented hitter who can be a difference-maker in a key spot in their lineup, but after missing an extended period of time and being forced to play an unfamiliar position, it’s also possible for Peralta to do more harm than good.
In either case, Peralta will be an X-factor in the ALDS, and his play could go a long way towards determining whether the Tigers advance to the ALCS or not.