I like to call Salvador Perez “Savior” for a couple reasons. First, his first name translates to “savior.” Second, he just makes me enjoy the team more. And, frankly, he gives the team more than we often get from catchers.
Let’s take a look at this. So far this season, Sal has played in seven games. I’ll repeat that: seven games. In those seven games, he’s hit .360/.360/.720 (as of Monday morning). Now, there are a few things to notice. He hasn’t walked a single time. However, he’s also only struck out once. He’s also hit three doubles and two home runs in nine total hits. Altogether, his fWAR comes out to a nice 0.4 over those seven games.
If you will, think of Humberto Quintero and Brayan Pena for a second. Quintero, though now gone, hit .232/.257/.341 in 43 games. That includes 12 doubles and one home run. Pena, on the other hand, has hit .267/.290/.351 in 42 games, with eight doubles and a home run. Let’s add that up. That’s 20 doubles and 2 home runs in 283 plate appearances. Their total fWAR over that time is…wait for it…0.2.
That’s right. Sal has doubled the Royals’ fWAR from catchers on the season in less than a tenth of the plate appearances. Of course, WAR moves up and down and Sal has been on fire, but still. If that doesn’t highlight the offensive impact Sal has on this team, I don’t know what does. If you like bWAR more, it comes out to an even worse divide: 0.1 for Quintero/Pena and 0.4 for Perez. If you look at simply the offensive numbers, the dynamic duo that started the season compiled a -0.2 bWAR on purely offense, while Perez has a 0.4 on offense. Again, there’s a difference.
Now, I like Pena as much as the next guy, and he’s definitely a respectable bench catcher. He at least has some offensive ability, unlike Quintero (this season, at least), but he’s no Perez. And defensively, he’s absolutely no Perez. On that one, you have to trust your eyes, as statistics aren’t as telling or forthcoming at this point. But it’s fairly common knowledge that Perez throws well and receives well. The questions were never about his receiving prowess, which some (I believe Keith Law was one) said would be solid in the majors way back when Perez was entering AA. Basically all of the questions focused on his bat. While we can’t put too much weight on his career numbers yet, as they don’t even add up to a complete season, he’s hit .335/.361/.509 in 183 major league plate appearances. If he (when he?) falls off from that, even if he falls to .290/.340/.450, his glove plus that production makes him a huge asset.
And that’s not even considering his contract, which might never pay him what he’s actually worth.
I’m glad that Perez got a warm welcome when he returned. He deserves it. As important as Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas or Alex Gordon or Alcides Escobar is to the future of the Royals, Perez is arguably the greatest asset. And I just wanted to remind everyone to appreciate that sort of young talent signed long-term with the club.