Last season, Salvador Perez continued to make strides as one of the few power threats in the Royals lineup. His 17 home runs and 70 RBI ranked second on the team, trailing only Alex Gordon. His .403 slugging percentage was third on the Royals, as Perez began to solidify himself as a possible middle of the order bat for the Royals.
Yet, while the power numbers were nice, Perez actually had his worst season in the majors last year. His .260/.289/.403 batting line marked his lowest rate in each category in his career. Even with the increase in home runs, Perez still posted an OPS+ of only 90, putting him below league average.
Looking at Salvador Perez’s performance over the season, there are some interesting points to be made. First, Perez was one of the Royals better hitters over the first half of the season, producing a .283/.329/.437 batting line with eleven home runs. Unfortunately, in the second half, Perez slumped badly, producing only a .229/.236/.360 batting line. He walked only three times in his 259 plate appearances after the All-Star Break, while striking out 46 times.
Perhaps that second half slump was inevitable. Perez did play in 150 games, including 146 behind the plate. The concussions he had last year, as well as the sheer wear of appearing in that many games behind the plate, would take their toll. That could easily explain that drop off.
Looking through the percentages on the batted ball, Salvador Perez saw a sharp decrease in his ground ball rate, and a subsequent spike in his fly ball percentages. From 2013 to 2014, Perez’s saw his ground ball rate drop by 7.5%, and had a 6.6% increase in fly balls. That fly ball increase also resulted in a 4.8% increase in infield popups, as 17.3% of Perez’s at bats ended with that result.
This may be a matter of Perez looking to hit more home runs at the expense of just making contact and hitting the ball into the gaps. That would certainly explain the drop on his batting average on balls in play, as Perez went from .311 in 2013 to .278 last season.
Those numbers, meanwhile, also show a lot of hope for Salvador Perez to rebound next year. With normalized luck, better health, and perhaps a few more days off, Perez could easily rebound to the form he showed in 2013, when it seemed that he was on the cusp of becoming a star in the American League.
Salvador Perez may have had a rough second half of the 2014 season, but that hopefully will not have any bearing on his 2015 season. In fact, 2015 could well be the season that we have been hoping from for Perez, when he takes that next step forward.