J.J. Hardy: Why the Detroit Tigers Should Make a Run at the Orioles Shortstop

Josh BerenterCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG - OCTOBER 02:  Shortstop J.J. Hardy #2 of the Baltimore Orioles throws over to first for an out against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on October 2, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

If the Detroit Tigers pull the trigger on the highly publicized trade talk that would send Rick Porcello to the Chicago Cubs and bring J.J. Hardy to Detroit, they'd be killing several birds with one stone.

The Tigers would be smart to part ways with Porcello now, bringing Hardy to Detroit and in turn giving the Tigers the opportunity to get rid of Jhonny Peralta.

Detroit has been watching Hardy from afar for several months, and rumors have swirled that the Tigers were gauging other teams' interest in Peralta during the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., in December.

According to MLive.com's James Schmehl, Peralta apparently drew interest from several teams, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics.

Getting rid of Porcello and Peralta, while acquiring Hardy, would be perfect for the Tigers.

Peralta began his tenure with the Tigers on a high note, batting .299 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI during his first full season with Detroit in 2011. But the 30-year-old's production drastically decreased last year, to the tune of a .239 average, 13 home runs and 63 RBI.

But as bad as Peralta's offensive woes were last season, the reason the Tigers are willing to part ways with the 10-year veteran in favor of Hardy is because of Hardy's attractive glove—and Peralta's ugly one.

Hardy is far and away a better defender than Peralta. Because his offensive numbers were similar to Peralta last season—.238 average with 22 home runs and 68 RBI—the Tigers would be better served with a strong defender with better power numbers.

People in Peralta's camp may point to his .988 fielding percentage in each of the last two seasons which was good for third- and second-best in the big leagues. But fielding percentage is one of those empty stats that doesn't tell you anywhere near the whole story of a player's defensive prowess.

Peralta's range has virtually disappeared in the last year or two. Other than a routine grounder hit right at him, you cross your fingers when the ball is hit in his direction.

Hardy is quicker and more agile, and he has a stronger arm and much better range than Peralta.

Hardy has only committed 12 errors in the last two seasons from a possible 1,399 chances. Compare that to Peralta's 14 errors in 1,203 total chances, and you can throw the only argument for keeping Peralta—his stout fielding percentage—out the window.

Hardy is signed with the Orioles through 2014 and is scheduled to make $7 million each of the next two seasons, while Peralta will be a free agent after 2013 and will make only $1.5 million less than Hardy next season.

The Tigers would be smart to get value for Peralta now, instead of watching his numbers decrease again and having the shortstop cupboard bare in 2014.

The deal makes sense all around. The Tigers need to act quickly to ensure the proper deal gets done.