ST. LOUIS -- Those skeptical of Jhonny Peralta's defensive ability upon the Cardinals' offseason signing of the veteran shortstop haven't been heard much in recent weeks, as Peralta is proving himself not only to be a capable shortstop but one of the better ones in the league.
Though signed for the pop he'd bring to the position, Peralta has given the Cardinals plenty of coverage. He entered Monday ranked fifth among all Major League shortstops with a 3.5 Ultimate Zone Rating and tied for second with eight defensive runs saved. In that latter category, he is tied with Kolten Wong for the highest such number among all Cardinals position players.
Peralta actually has a better UZR and higher DRS total than Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons, considered by many to be the gold standard at short. Simmons was also the Platinum Glove winner last season.
Asked if Peralta's defense has been even steadier than projected, manager Mike Matheny answered, "I agree. I think he's getting better, it seems, like every game. I don't know what the explanation would be, but he looks very good."
Peralta, a 12-year veteran in his first season in the National League, simply cited comfort.
"I feel better at shortstop," Peralta said. "I know more about the players for the other team, and I know how to be in the [right] position. I feel more comfortable now."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.