When Jhonny Peralta signed his four-year, $53 million contract in the offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals looked like they had gotten a bargain at the position.
One month into the season, it looked like the Cardinals overpaid. A funny thing happened after that, however.
Peralta began to produce.
To be fair, the Cardinals haven’t had the best of luck with bats as of late. Although the team is doing well in the standings, St. Louis hadn’t hit up to par. Things are slowly turning around as of late, and Peralta’s bat has warmed up.
On April 30 Peralta held a paltry .196 average at the plate. Peralta had spent his entire career in the American League before this thanks to his time with the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers. Crossing over to a new league can tax the patience of any free agent, as he has to get used to new pitchers and different teams.
Peralta has a .286 average in May, and his overall mark rose as high as .258 on May 22. Since then he is in a miniature slump. Peralta is 3-for-28 since that game, dropping him back to .239.
The skeptics will be out in full force. Oh look, they say. Peralta doesn’t swing as mean a bat when he can’t use steroids. Maybe Biogenesis was his middle name.
The only trouble is that argument doesn’t hold water. Peralta may be struggling at the plate, but he does have nine home runs. If he can play nearly a full season, Peralta is on pace for close to 135 hits, which would exceed his output each of the past two seasons with the Tigers.
No one is calling for Peralta’s head on a silver platter. The entire team has had trouble hitting over the course of this season with the exception of a few players like Matt Adams, Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter.
Peralta won’t lose his job. His backup is Daniel Descalso, who has been a utility backup at several positions but doesn’t project as a starter. Besides, when you’re paying a player over $13 million a season, you’re not going to sit him after nearly two months of his first season in a new uniform.
Patience is the virtue here. Peralta has a strong bat and a solid work ethic. He wants more than anything to prove last year with the Biogenesis scandal was a fluke, a temporary lapse in judgment.
A few more hot streaks with the bat and opinion will turn around. St. Louis fans are among the most accepting in baseball. There is no reason to believe Peralta is headed for a rotten season.