When the St. Louis Cardinals signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $52 million contract in the offseason, many viewed it as a panic move by GM John Mozeliak. But having dealt with the weak bat of Pete Kozma, the club was not in a position tread lightly. Shortstop was viewed as the piece to the puzzle that would get the Cardinals those last two wins in the World Series they lacked and bring the organization its 12th ring.
So as we sit 40 games into the season, if you did not know the standings and I were to tell you Peralta, through about one-fourth of the season, has amassed 2.0 WAR according to Baseball Reference, you would probably guess the Cardinals to be around 25-15 or so, doing their Cardinal thing and preparing to hit the gas and put the division out of reach. Alas due to chemistry, hitting and bullpen issues, this is not the case as the club sits at 20-20.
Yet Peralta has, despite what seems to be a popular misconception, delivered. Owing to a slow start, fans are not quite cognizant of his contributions, but sporting an .818 OPS and a .967 fielding percentage, totaling just five errors, he has been the league’s best shortstop not named Troy Tulowitzki, the do everything megastar for the Colorado Rockies.
Peralta by WAR has been the Cardinals’ best player; that fact may shock Cardinal Nation, but according to the numbers, he is the biggest reason the Cardinals are even still relevant in the National League Central. Currently, Mozeliak is getting about double his money’s worth and looks to be pretty smart on this move. How smart Mozeliak looks at the end of year, however, will depend on the club’s mainstays reverting to their higher-level form. But as for Peralta, so far, Jhonny Be Good.