When one thinks of the top catchers in baseball, typically one thinks of Buster Posey, Joe Mauer and Yadier Molina. When healthy, Brian McCann also cracks that list. But somewhat under the radar, the Royals may actually have the best catcher in the American League in Salvador Perez.
It is difficult to think of a 23 year old in his first full season as the best in his league at what he does, especially when there is a player such as Mauer that shares his position. However, Perez had a season that would have been excellent for any catcher, regardless of how long they had been in the league. Not only did he produce at a .292/.323/.433 clip with 13 home runs, but he did most of that damage as an actual catcher. When penciled in behind the plate, Perez put together a .287/.319/.422 batting line with 12 home runs. Among catchers with a minimum of 275 plate appearances, Perez ranked sixth in batting average and doubles, tied for fourth in RBIs and was ninth in runs scored. Add in his All-Star game appearance and Gold Glove award, and that year become even better.
Now with Mauer being converted to being a first baseman full time, who else is there in the American League to challenge Salvador Perez as the best catcher in the league? McCann, if healthy, could make a case, but what other options are there? Matt Wieters just has not lived up to his potential, and despite his ability to hit home runs, has not done more than show flashes of the talent that made him a top prospect. Yan Gomes has also showed potential during his time with Cleveland last year, but is he ready to be in that class of player?
With only one full year in the majors, Perez has already started to put together an impressive resume. As he continues to develop, it may be possible that what would have been a career season for most players is only the beginning of what Perez can accomplish. If that ends up being the case, the contract that the Royals signed Perez to, which already seems like a bargain, would end up being that much more of a steal.
Salvador Perez is already one of, if not the best, catcher in the American League. In another couple of seasons, he could end up in the conversation for being the best catcher in baseball.