It's St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Peralta is an interesting one to analyze in that the two primary advanced defensive metrics -- Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) have disagreed on Peralta's value relative to his peers. Peralta has never ranked in the top 15 among shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved, but has ranked in the top three in UZR in 2011 and 2012 before dropping to 14th in 2013.
This year, both metrics agree that he rates very well. He's first among shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved with 14 and a hair behind Simmons for the top spot in UZR.
This struck me as odd, so I took a closer look, with the help of a few of our tools.
It's not about flash
Peralta ranks 10th among shortstops in innings played but just 29th in what the video-tracking service we use refers to as "Good Fielding Plays" (think plays that are Web Gem-like in nature).
There are 20 shortstops who have at least 20 Good Fielding Plays (Alcides Escobar has the most, with 44).
Converting the “tough” outs
Though Peralta doesn't nececessary make the flashy play, he's rating well in one regard. Baseball Info Solutions (which devised the Defensive Runs Saved stat) provided us with some noteworthy data on Peralta.
Peralta enters Wednesday with 14 successful plays (in other words, gotten an out) on 53 batted balls hit to areas on the field in which outs are converted less than half the time (his 26 percent conversion ranks sixth in the majors).
Last season, he had a total of 16 such plays on 78 opportunities (20.5 percent).
To his credit, Peralta has minimized mistakes. He's been charged with eight errors, but has only two plays that BIS graded as "Defensive Misplays" (one for an errant throw and one for a bobble, both resulting in a negative consequence without an error being charged).
That’s a low total given how much Peralta has played. There are 14 shortstops with 20 or more Misplays and Errors.
Peralta is averaging one misplay and error every 64 innings. In 2013, he averaged one every 43 innings.
So what's the secret to his success?
We went to two people whom we felt would be knowledgeable on this subject -- "Baseball Tonight" analysts Alex Cora and Manny Acta. They both came up with the answer that would totally make sense.
"They don't shift as often as other teams, but they put him in the right spot," Cora said. "Jose Oquendo is one of the best infield coaches in the majors. That pitching staff helps too. They don't miss their spots."
And this is an important thing to keep in mind with the advanced defensive metrics. Just because someone rates really well or really poorly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the blame fully lies with them.
In this case, the Cardinals seem to have found the best way to maximize Peralta's skill-set. And they're reaping the benefits of it in a big way. They lead the majors by a wide margin with 60 Defensive Runs Saved.