One of the biggest offseason moves the St. Louis Cardinals made was signing SS Jhonny Peralta away from the Detroit Tigers for four years and $53 million. It was a bold investment, especially considering that the club simultaneously let a potential Hall of Famer, Carlos Beltran, go to the New York Yankees for a similar amount of money. Nevertheless, the signing was hailed as the aggressive action of a contender looking to strengthen its weakest link.
Pete Kozma had been, to put it mildly, inept at the plate. And throughout the World Series the problem extended beyond Kozma, as it was apparent the club was essentially trying to win with a six man lineup. The Nos. 7, 8 and 9 hitters performed with the skill of diamond cutters overdosed on caffeine. So few people criticized the act of signing a shortstop, though opinions varied on which one. So far Peralta has batted only .111, but he has not looked bad doing it.
Last season he had a .374 BABIP and converted that to a .303 average. This is rather low, and as BABIP has a luck component, suggests that he would over the course of time regress to his career mean of .250-.270. So far he has had the complete opposite in terms of luck, with a BABIP of .074. A closer look shows that his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up, so he is adapting to the club philosophy on that count and his ground ball line drive and fly ball ratios are all within his historical averages.
What that means altogether is that luck goes both ways, and if you took his career BAPIP average of about .300 and plugged that into his .074 anomaly so far, he would be floating right at about .260, which is what his career numbers would lead one to suggest he will produce. Peralta figures to land at around that average with about 15 homers and 70-80 RBIs. Add that to above average defense and it is very possible GM John Mozeliak will get the 4 WAR player he was looking for when he made his investment.