Martinez and Peralta Similar In Many Ways, Yet Remembered So Differently
Craig Gifford | On 13, Oct 2011
Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. One is loathed by Cleveland Indians fans, one is still held in high regard. That is about where the differences end for the two former Indians now enjoying postseason life with the Detroit Tigers. Each of the two one-time Tribe cornerstones is in the ALCS for the first time since helping to get the Indians their in surprising 2007 campaign.
Both players made their debuts with the Indians, Martinez in 2002, Peralta a year later, and have put up very similar numbers ever since. Their career paths have been very similar, as well, from switching positions with the Tribe, to making a strong postseason run in 2007, to being sent packing before it was time for a free agent raise.
Looking at the overall numbers, it would be hard to decipher the two players. Martinez has 143 career home runs to go with a .303 lifetime average. Peralta has 132 bombs and .268 average. Looking at their seasons with the Tribe, Martinez and Peralta look like very similar players.
Martinez came up with the Indians as a catcher. In 2006, Cleveland management decided to convert him to a part time first baseman to save wear and tear on their best hitter. Three years later, the summer of 2009, he was sent to Boston so the Tribe wouldn’t have to pony up the estimated $10 million to keep him after the 2010 season. Martinez signed a free agent deal with Tigers this past offseason.
Peralta came into the Indians’ organization as a shortstop. In 2008, the Indians did the position shift with Peralta, moving him to third. This was in part because the Tribe had a young shortstop in Asdrubal Cabrera ready to take center stage. Peralta, after showing a couple years of waning offensive production, was shipped out in the summer of 2010.
Where the big difference lies between the two is in the fan reaction to their leaving. When Martinez was traded, Tribe fans were irate with Cleveland ownership. Martinez was the best player on a struggling team, still just two years removed from getting within one game of a World Series trip. Martinez, other than an injury-plagued 2008 season, was the model of consistency with the Tribe. He was a near lock for 20-25 home runs, 100 RBI and roughly .300 batting average.
Peralta, on the other hand, was looked at as lazy and overweight. Fans pointed to that as to why a player who showed so much promise in 2007 and 2008 began to fall apart in 2009 and 2010. Peralta’s Jekyll and Hyde routine at the plate and shoddy defense had fans all too eager to say ‘buh-bye’ once he was sent to division foe Detroit. The fact Peralta was traded within the division and fans barely batted an eye, was proof of his standing in Cleveland.
Where Martinez represented everything that was good about Cleveland’s near-miss in 2007, Peralta had stopped producing like he did that season, when he hit 21 home runs. In 2009, following seasons of 24, 13, 21 and 23 long balls, Perralta managed just 11, with a disappointing .254 average. By July of 2010, his numbers were down to seven jacks and .246.
Making matters worse for Tribe fans is Peralta decided to have a rejuvenation this year. In his first full year with the Tigers, he hit 21 home runs with 86 RBI and .299 batting average (by far the best of his career). He made his first all-star game. Combining with Martinez, the two have been major reasons that the Tigers are currently in the ALCS and entered the postseason a favorite to win it all. Neither of the two have done all that well in nine games this postseason, but as Cleveland fans know all to well, they are still swinging a bat while the Tribe is at home again.
Martinez, 32 years old and Peralta, 29, could both be with the Tigers and haunting Indians fans for a while. Detroit has Martinez locked up through 2014 and Peralta is under team options through 2013. They have a chance to do what they couldn’t in Cleveland. That is build on the success of this season. After Cleveland’s magical 2007 season, everything went down hill. The two Tigers would like to make this postseason stuff a regular thing. If that starts to happen, they may both face the ire of Indians fans in the future.
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