Is Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta the Better Free-Agent Shortstop Target?

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IINovember 14, 2013

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 12:  Jhonny Peralta #27 of the Detroit Tigers is tagged out by Stephen Drew #7 of the Boston Red Sox on a fielder's choice in the fourth inning during Game One of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 12, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The shortstop market is weak in this year's MLB free-agent class. Out of all of the players available, only Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta seem worthy of multi-year deals.

However, each player comes with his hiccups.

Drew is tied to draft-pick compensation after declining a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Boston Red Sox and is represented by Scott Boras.

Peralta is coming off a year in which he was suspended for 50 games for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.

Both do provide value, but for teams in the market for a shortstop, which is the better target?


Offensive Comparisons

Both players are comparatively the same when it comes to offense. Here's how both have performed over the last two years:

Offensive Comparisons Between Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew
Jhonny Peralta1,033.267.328.416241184.6
Stephen Drew828.241.324.40620953.9

Neither player has a real advantage offensively, especially considering Peralta had 205 more plate appearances than Drew over that timeframe. That was thanks in large part to Drew only playing in 79 games in 2012 due to an ankle injury.

Peralta was having a good year in 2013 before the PED suspension. He was batting .303 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI, and he was selected to the AL All-Star team. But those numbers will be skewed because of his suspension.

Drew has only had one season in which he hit more than 20 home runs (2008), while Peralta has four. 

Both players are bottom-of-the-order-type hitters and aren't going to be a real force offensively for whoever signs them.


Defensive Comparisons

Defense is where both players make their money. Neither are Gold Glove-type defenders, but they both provide good defense nonetheless.

Here's how each compares to the other at shortstop over the last two years:

Defensive Comparisons Between Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew
Jhonny Peralta2,213.11,033114.161.3
Stephen Drew1,443.1667134.080.2

While Drew seems to get more talk about his defensive abilities, the numbers show Peralta is the better defender. 

Boras feels Drew is one of the best shortstops in the league, according to John Tomase of the Boston Herald:

Stephen is a top-five defensive player, and offensively his OPS is fourth among shortstops, Boras said. He provides a lot, is very, very sure-handed. And wherever Stephen Drew goes, he ends up in the playoffs. I think a large part of the Red Sox’ acumen and Ben (Cherington)’s instinct for what makes a winning team is (shown) in the acquisition of Stephen Drew.

If he's one of the best in the league, why has he never won a Gold Glove?



Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors believes Drew will get something around four years and $48 million, although Boras might not agree. Hill colleague Steve Adams believes Peralta will get three years and $36 million.

Drew's defensive WAR in 2013 ranked 13th among MLB shortstops, according to ESPN's stats. His 4.18 range factor this year also ranked him 10th. Of course, Boras will point to a 4.54 range factor in the playoffs, but that's a small sampling. Why couldn't he do that over the course of an entire season?

As far as Peralta, the biggest question surrounding him will be his comeback from the PED suspension.

It should be noted that in 2012 (the PED season in question), Peralta batted .239 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI. The year before that, he batted .299 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI.


Who's the Better Target?

If I'm going to spend $12 million or more a year on a shortstop, Peralta is the guy to target.

While their numbers are similar offensively, Peralta is a better defender. Sure, Drew had a great postseason in which he made a lot of good plays, but he didn't make those same type of plays consistently throughout the regular season.

Peralta has proven he can hit before (even without PEDs), while Drew has had one year in which he showed he could hit for power and average, making Peralta the best shortstop target on the market.


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