The key to the ALCS? the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta

Forget Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, David Ortiz or Miguel Cabrera.

Seems hard to do given the fact they have combined for 25 All-Star Game appearances, almost 800 home runs and nearly 250 wins, but that’s what people need to do. The real make-or-break player on either roster for this series is the disgraced shortstop-turned-outfielder, Jhonny Peralta.

“I said to [GM Dave] Dombrowksi: ‘Give me the opportunity to be here and show I can help the team,’” said Peralta following Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday (CBS Sports). “They called me and they gave me the opportunity to be here so I try to work hard everyday.”

Peralta has been on a tear for a Tigers’ offense that has been dormant for nearly the entire postseason, hitting .417 in the ALDS matchup with Oakland, and adding a 3-for-4 night in Game 1 of the ALCS Saturday. It wouldn’t be hard to make the case that without Peralta, who missed 50 games this season due to a PED-related suspension, the Tigers would be watching Oakland take on Boston.

The 31-year old Dominican Republic native hit .303 with 11 long balls and 55 runs batted in during the 2013 campaign, in which he played just 107 games for Detroit. The team’s usual starting shortstop was replaced after the team added former Red Sox top prospect Jose Iglesias in a three-team deal midseason, and willingly took on a new position – left field – during the postseason, just to get on the field.

It has been apparent thus far in the postseason that the Tigers’ cornerstone, Cabrera, has not been at his best. Several injuries have been nagging him for almost a month, decimating his power stroke that played such a large role in the Detroit offense. However, this absence allowed an unlikely hero to rise from the ashes, bringing his team within three wins of another World Series appearance.

Topics: ALCS, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Jhonny Peralta, MLB

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