Is Cards’ Jhonny Peralta better than Troy Tulowitzki?


When the St. Louis Cardinals brought infielder Jhonny Peralta onboard following his PED suspension-shortened 2013 season, fans were skeptical, to say the least.

Sure, he was coming off his second All-Star selection in three years, but no one knew how his performance had been affected by the substances he used.

Last season, Peralta silenced his critics, posting a 5.7 WAR in his first year as a member of the Cardinals organization, helping lead St. Louis to a second-straight National League Central title.

In 157 games, the veteran shortstop was solid, driving in 75 runs while hitting 21 home runs. His overall .263/.336/.443 line was largely in-line with his career averages, but after earning a four-year, $53 million deal, fans wanted more.

This year, he’s delivered.

"“I think we’re seeing the kind of player he is,” manager Mike Matheny told FOX Sports Midwest recently. “I think we’re just watching a guy who’s a consistently good player all the way around, who’s doing a great job defensively as well, is putting together tough at-bats.”"

So far this season, Peralta has not batted under .300 in a single month – carrying a .317 mark into action on Sunday against Kansas City. His 10 home runs and 35 runs batted in lead the team, as does his WAR.

So why does he not get the attention some of the other players do?

For example, the Colorado Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki, who dominates national headlines on a daily basis, has eight home runs and 32 runs batted in this season – both of which trail Peralta’s numbers.

"In terms of OPS, Peralta tops Tulowitzki this season – yet receives little to no recognition for his performance."

According to Fangraphs, his 2.0 WAR ranks second amongst big league shortstops, trailing only Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants (2.3), who has finally put together a solid start to a season at the plate.

Peralta has a long history of being a solid offensive threat, averaging some 19 home runs and 82 runs batted in per season over his 13 years in Major League Baseball.

So, let me get this straight.

He’s one of the most consistent and durable middle infielders in the game and he’s proven he’s not a flash in the pan. Statistically, he’s a premier talent at his position and is arguably the Cardinals’ most dangerous hitter.

Yet, even in St. Louis, he’s underappreciated. Nationally, Peralta scarcely warrants mention. And it’s all for two simple reasons.

First, everyone loves to hate someone linked to PEDs. Even those who have admitted usage and accepted responsibility (a la Mark McGwire) still have a stigma surrounding them and it’s unlikely that they receive forgiveness anytime soon.

That bitterness is only amplified by the fact that due, in part, to his performance in 2013, Peralta landed $50 million-plus from the Cardinals.

The second reason is ridiculous, but still in-play nonetheless. Look no further than the name across the chest of his uniform.

That’s right. There’s a decent chunk of fans that don’t like him because the Cardinals have emerged as the most consistent winning team in baseball, comparable to the late 1990s New York Yankees.

Just like folks loved to hate Joe Torre‘s Bronx Bombers then, people love to hate the best team today – and it’s simple. That team is the Cardinals.

Combine the fact that he plays for an annual World Series contender and has PED ties, and you arrive at why fans and some media members ignore the performance of Jhonny Peralta.

There is no playing general manager like there is when it comes to the Rockies’ Tulowitzki. The Cardinals aren’t unloading anytime soon and that’s abundantly clear – thus, limiting the intrigue.

So even though he’s been better this season than the most sought-after shortstop in the game today, don’t expect the love for Peralta to increase anytime soon.

And if his performance to-date this season is any indication, he’s just fine with that.

Next: Redbirds fall on Saturday to end rough week