When St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak announced the signing of free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta last November to a four-year, $53 million contract, some fans were livid. The 32-year-old was fresh off a 50-game PED-related suspension and many were convinced his production would suffer.
That wall of discontent was demolished brick by brick during the course of the 2014 season. The Cardinals’ leader in extra-base hits - including both doubles and home runs - as well as two-out RBI and Wins Above Replacement was not Allen Craig. It was not any of the Matts – Adams, Carpenter or even Holliday.
It was the previously-maligned Peralta, who answered the bell for 157 of 162 regular-season games and did just what he was asked to do – play solid defense and consistently hit the baseball.
His 21 home runs is the highest single-season total in franchise history by a shortstop and was not a fluke. 2014 was his fifth career 20 home run season.
Peralta’s team-leading 38 doubles ranking in a tie for seventh among all National League hitters regardless of position. It was his highest two-base hit total since he had 42 with Cleveland in 2008.
Offering an important right-handed bat in a lineup loaded with lefties, Peralta batted everywhere from second to seventh, but most often was fifth. He delivered plenty of key hits, placing in the top 10 in the Senior Circuit with his 31 two-out RBI. His overall total of 75 runs batted in was second on the team behind Holliday.
Defensively, Peralta is more steady than spectacular but that matters over the course of a long season. The Dominican Republic native came in third among all MLB shortstops in defensive runs saved with 17. (Click here to read more about this stat.)
Following the season, he was the lone Cardinal named to the Sporting News 2014 National League All-Star Team.
In the Wins Above Replacement measure according to Fangraphs, Peralta topped all Cardinals players at 5.4, even ahead of ace Adam Wainwright at 4.5. Holliday and Carpenter were next among position players at a distant 3.8.
Put that all together and Jhonny Peralta is The Cardinal Nation’s St. Louis Player of the Year for 2014.
Link to master article with all 2014 award winners, team recaps and article schedules for the remainder of this series. That will include our selection as St. Louis Rookie of the Year, coming on Monday.
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