When I say Fat Shortstop, do you think Top 100?
Jhonny Antonio Peralta
Shortstop/Third Baseman, 2003-2010
Height: 6'2" Weight: 215 lbs.
Bats: Both Throws: Right
Acquired: Amateur Free Agent, 4-14-1999
We now come to a player that has an unusual quality. No, not the spelling of his first name, but a Dominican shortstop that does hot hail from San Pedro de Macoris. Jhonny Peralta was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic. He also attended the city’s high school of the same name. The Indians signed him for $18k as an amateur free agent on April 24, 1999, when Jhonny was still 17 years young.
Jhonny reported to the Cleveland Dominican Summer League squad and promptly shined, making the All-Star team. His early success prompted his assignment to the Columbus (GA) Red Stixx in 2000, the Tribe A league affiliate in the South Atlantic League. He was not spectacular, but showed a good batting eye, drawing 59 walks in 106 games. He also showed a future precursor as well, 13 GIDP.
He was moved up a level in 2001, to Kinston (NC), the Tribe A+ affiliate in the Carolina League. His batting eye did not improve but it was still consistent. But his power did spike from .309 to .351. He finished the year with a slash of 240/328/351. He was also considered an outstanding glove man with his double play partner of Macier Izturis. Most believed he had a future as a glove man, not as a hitter at this point.
Omar Vizquel was entrenched in Cleveland in 2001, Buffalo had John McDonald, and Akron split most of the at bats between Jim Goelz and Zach Sorensen. At this point most of the scouts felt he might be a good backup to Omar. So although Jhonny hadn’t hit well in Kinston, there wasn’t much in his path and his progression continued in Akron in 2002.
In 2002, the Aeros were the benefit of Jhonny finding his batting stroke. Hitting in a lineup with Victor Martinez, Maicer Izturis, Ryan Church and Coco Crisp, the Aeros dominated the Eastern League with a 93-48 record. Jhonny hit 281/343/457 with 28 doubles, 15 home runs and 62 RBI, showing his first glimpse of perhaps being more than a glove man.
Buffalo played light hitting Tony Medrano and Zach Sorensen at short in 2002. Brandon Phillips also had 54 games there, but he was being groomed at second base. So the decision to move 21 year old Jhonny up to Buffalo in 2003 was a no-brainer.
Omar had just signed a two year deal with a mutual option for 2005, but he also had injured his knee in 2002, requiring surgery. He re-injured it in 2003, which required him to be shelved in June. Jhonny had struggled in Buffalo those first 2 months, a 257/310/329 slash, but he was called up to back up as John McDonald and Ricky Gutierrez tried to fill in for Omar. Neither McDonald nor Gutierrez proved to be adept and Jhonny had the better glove, so he eventually took over the position by mid-July.
But as a 21 year old playing every day in the majors, Jhonny struggled at the plate. In 227 plate appearances he accumulated a 2276/295/326 slash, good enough for a 67 OPS+. Omar of course, healed over the winter and resumed his shortstop duties in 2004, sending Jhonny back to Buffalo. The infield for Buffalo was a bit of a merry-go-round with Brandon Phillips splitting time between second and short, Johnny splitting time between short and third, and Brent Abernathy splitting time between second and third. But the position switching had no effect on Jhonny’s bat at all. In fact he had his breakout season, hitting 326/384/493 in 623 plate appearances, 109 runs scored, 44 doubles, 15 homers and 86 RBI. This netted him an International League All-Star nod and he also nabbed the MVP nod as well as the Lou Boudreau award for top Indian minor leaguer.
With the emergence of Peralta in 2004 and Omar wanting an extension, the decision to decline the mutual option for 2005, while not fan friendly, was the correct call. Omar ended up with a three year deal in San Francisco, and Jhonny took over at short. Had he not played that half season in 2003, Jhonny would have likely beaten Huston Street for Rookie of the Year as he hit 292/366/520, a 137 OPS+ with 35 doubles and 24 big flies for the AL Central contending Tribe. As an emerging young talent, the Tribe happily signed him to a five year deal worth $13M, with a club option for 2011.
In 2006, the Tribe struggled to a fourth place finish, and Jhonny did as well, down to a 257/323/385 84 OPS+ line, a classic sophomore slump. Peralta rebounded in 2007 after LASIK that offseason, a 270/341/430 101 OPS+ with 27 doubles and 21 homers. He tore up the Yankees in the ALDS and smoked 2 homers in the ill-fated ALCS against the Red Sox. In 2008, he improved to a 276/331/473 113 OPS+, 42 doubles, 23 homers and 89 RBI.
But by 2009, Asdrubal Cabrera had established himself as the future shortstop and as Jhonny had experience at third earlier in his career, he became the starter at third. But his heart wasn’t completely in it, and he slumped once again to a 254/316/375 85 OPS+, and his lowest HR total of 11, flailing at the sliders down and away, down and away, down and away.
His 2010 season wasn’t any better, especially when he took down Asdrubal in mid-May. The Tribe had no interest in picking up his option, so he was dealt to the Tigers for Giovani Soto at the trade deadline. He did not fare any better with the Tigers in 2010, but rebounded nicely in 2011, earning his first All-Star nod. But 2012 was not kind to Jhonny, slumping down to a 239/305/384 85 OPS+ season. He did have a good postseason though, hitting well against the A’s and destroying the Yankees for a second time. His $6M option for 2013 was picked up by the Tigers.
Baseball America, Chris Kline [2007, 2004]
New York Times, Murray Chass 
MLB.com, Anthony Castrovince 
Indians Career Statistics
|CLE (8 yrs)||923||3829||3435||477||906||201||16||103||456||9||14||329||826||.264||.329||.422||.751||99||1448||101||21||11||33||8|
AL WAR: 9th, 2005, 4.8
AL oWAR: 8th, 2005, 5.3
AL SLG: 10th, 2005, .520
AL RS: 5th, 2008, 104
AL 2B: 9th, 2008, 42
AL K: 7th, 2005, 128; 4th, 2006, 152; 5th, 2007, 146
AL Range Factor/Game 3B: 3rd, 2009, 2.78
AL Range Factor/Game SS: 5th, 2005, 4.40; 2nd, 2006, 4.72; 1st, 2007, 4.61; 2nd, 2008, 4.41
Cleveland Indians Career Leader
- 46th WAR Position Players (13.5)
- 40th Offensive WAR (15.4)
- t-45th Defensive WAR (2.2)
- 39th Games Played (923)
- 38th Plate Appearances(3829)
- 38th At Bats (3435)
- 35th Runs Scored (477)
- 40th Hits (906)
- 34th Total Bases (1448)
- 23rd Doubles (201)
- t-21st Home Runs (103)
- 32nd Runs Batted In (456)
- 40th Bases On Balls (329)
- 3rd Strikeouts (826)
- 44th Singles (586)
- t-38th Runs Created (469)
- 25th Extra Base Hits (320)
- 40th Times On Base (1256)
- 13th Sacrifice Flies (33)
- 12th Ground Into Double Plays (101)
- 42nd AB/HR (33.3)
- 32nd Outs Made (2688)
Cleveland Indians Season Leader
- t-36th Doubles (42, 2008)
- 7th Strikeouts (152, 2006); t-10th (146, 2007); t-18th (134, 2009); t-27th (128, 2005); 29th (126, 2008)
- t-42nd Extra Base Hits (69)
- t-4th Ground Into Double Plays (26, 2008); t-24th (20, 2009); t-29th (19, 2006)
- t-27th Outs Made (472, 2008); t-43rd (464, 2009)