Detroit Tigers: Why Jhonny Peralta Will Be the Scapegoat in 2013

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Detroit Tigers: Why Jhonny Peralta Will Be the Scapegoat in 2013
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The Detroit Tigers are coming into the 2013 season as runaway favorites to win the American League Central, and big favorites to win the World Series.

But if the Tigers don't reach expectations this season someone will be to blame, and Detroit's biggest scapegoat will be shortstop Jhonny Peralta.

Peralta was traded to the Tigers midway through the 2010 season after playing seven-plus years with the Cleveland Indians.

He was a welcomed addition to the Tigers' lineup replacing offensively-challenged Adam Everett who played just 1 1/2 seasons in Detroit.

Peralta had one of the best seasons of his career in 2011—his first full year for the Tigers—averaging .299 with a .365 on-base percentage, 21 home runs and 86 RBI's in 146 games.

But 2011 and last season were like night and day for Peralta, as the 30-year-old drastically dropped off statistically, batting just .239 with 13 home runs, 63 RBIs in 150 games.

But perhaps even worse than his offensive decline in 2012 was the decrease in range Peralta experienced on defense.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

He's never been the greatest defender, but during his time with Cleveland and in his first two seasons with the Tigers Peralta was always a capable, dependable shortstop who could track down almost any ball hit in his direction.

That changed last season as his range disappeared and it seemed like most plays that weren't considered routine weren't executed.

According to ESPN.com, Peralta ranked among the worst shortstops in the AL last season with a 4.14 range factor. Range factor takes into account number of putouts plus assists divided by nine innings, and Peralta's mark last season was one of the worst of his career.

The Tigers were softly shopping Peralta this offseason but no concrete deals were on the table and Detroit will go forward in 2013 with Peralta as the starter at short.

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With perennial whipping boy Ryan Raburn out of the picture, Tigers fans will have to find someone to blame if things go south in Detroit and expectations aren't met.

Peralta has only been an All-Star once in his nine-year career and has never won a Gold Glove Award.

And that elusive Gold Glove won't be gracing his trophy case anytime soon.

If the Tigers don't reach the World Series for the second consecutive season, or even fail to make the playoffs, Peralta will catch the ire of angry Tigers fans who have been thirsting for a Championship since 1984.

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