In this season of discontent, with many mysterious disappointments, it's easy to overlook particular failure. In classic Cleveland fashion, we are not looking at one or two crashes in 2009—or even three or four—but an entire cascade of underperformances that would boggle the mind of a probabilistically inclined fan. My nominee for most disappointing is Jhonny Peralta.
Jhonny was regarded by many as a potential breakout figure this year, based on an impressive 2008. Last season he was tenth in the league in slugging percentage and extra base hits (with an impressive 69). He had 42 doubles last season (only nine so far this year) and 23 homers (versus two in 2009). Going into his age 27 season, Jhonny appeared poised for greatness. And then, he turned into Julio Lugo.
Peralta's eqA is .255. His VORP is 4.5, right behind Erick Aybar and Old Omar V. His OPS+ is a robust 84. Although his slugging percentage is no longer lower than his OBP (though just barely), he is slugging 80 points lower than his career average. In short, he sucks.
So, the question is: why? He's a warm-weather hitter, so we can expect improvement. But he doesn't seem to be hitting to right center, which is where he gets his doubles. I suspect he's an intense guy who took exception with being moved out of shortstop, but even that can't begin to explain the extent of his offensive collapse. He's "benefited" from a .353 BABIP this season. His line-drive rate is a little off (16.3% in 2009, as opposed to 19.6% career), but he has a significantly higher ground-ball rate (54.1% in 2009 against 46.5% career). Another interesting aberration: Jhonny is OPsing .567 against lefthanded pitchers.
In a normal season (for a normal team), this sort of decline would not necessarily be so deflating. But for the Indians—in the midst of a teamwide disintegration—Jhonny's lack of performance has been devastating.