Jhonny Peralta

Jhonny Peralta is in The Best Shape of His Life


The main point of BSOHL articles is to poke a bit of fun at the recurrence of a cliche that, until around last year anyway, most people didn’t realize was a cliche.  The secondary though related point was to observe that, as far as cliches go, it’s a kind of empty one inasmuch as the relationship between guys proclaiming their enhanced conditioning and enhanced performance is pretty darn weak. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but usually a BSOHL declaration is an exercise in public relations.

Jhonny Peralta may be a different case, however. I’ve paid less attention since he’s been in Detroit, but when he was in Cleveland his weight fluctuated pretty significantly from season to season as did his performance.  He was slender in 2005, porked up a bit the next year, got slim again before 2008 and his game more or less followed suit.

So, while most of these BSHOL/weight loss declarations don’t carry too much, um, weight, they probably are a bit more significant in the case of Jhonny Peralta. With that, I give you Tom Gage’s latest in the Detroit News:

… last week while manager Jim Leyland and general manager Dave Dombrowski were making a lot of positive comments about the 2013 Tigers, there was no indication they are anything less than content with Peralta as the incumbent.Fewer pounds would be preferable, they told him, as he headed home for the winter. He got the message and lost 18.

“It’s good,” Peralta said. “I’ve never been at this weight since I’ve been with Detroit. I finished last season at 236. I’m at 218 now.”

That bodes well.

In some other parts of his game, however, he’s less eager to talk.  Gage, while noting that Peralta is sure-handed, comments about his range, which is near the worst among everyday shortstops. Here’s Peralta:

“I don’t like it when people talk about my range,” he said. “I know it’s important, and I know I can be better, but I think I’ve done a really good job at shortstop.”

I don’t like it when people talk about my grammar or when I make bad arguments, but those are key parts of my job and when I suck at those things I can’t really complain if people criticize. Same with a shortstop’s range, right? So, sorry Jhonny.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.