KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez has been recognized as one of the best at his position by earning three straight All-Star berths. However, few believed that he and Drew Butera would form the best catching tandem in baseball before the 2016 season began.
Yet, that’s exactly what the pair have done through the first 77 games of the season, just short of the half-way mark. Salvdor Perez has enjoyed a breakthrough at the plate at age 26, after learning how to sit on pitches he can drive rather than hack at the first offering he can put in play. Meanwhile, 32-year-old backup catcher Drew Butera is hitting better than at any time in his career.
Between the two, they’ve given the Kansas City Royals 2.9 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement fangraphs.com). Though the San Francisco Giants, who have Buster Posey behind the plate, also have 2.9 fWAR, the KC Royals duo remains a fractional amount ahead that doesn’t appear due to rounding off.
Perez looks like he’ll finish 2016 with his best overall season, barring injury. He’s slashing ,294/.326/.512 with 15 doubles, 1 triple, 2 home runs, and 37 RBIs. ESPN projects Perez to finish the season with a career-high 25 home runs, which would go a long way toward establishing himself as the slugger he should be given his raw power.
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Meanwhile, Drew Butera is slashing a surprising .302/.362/.547 with 7 doubles and 2 home runs in 53 at bats. Butera’s is a career .192/.249/.284 hitter in seven major league season as backup catcher, so most analysts believe Butera’s recent production is simply the product of a small sample size. Even so, he’s provided stable defense with strong offense whenever he has gotten the chance to play in 2016.
Butera has been the best backup that the Kansas City Royals have had since Salvador Perez debuted in 2011. His strong play has helped KC Royals manager Ned Yost resist the temptation to over-use his All-Star catcher. The increased rest might help prevent Perez from suffering a crash at the plate in the second-half of the season.
Stay tuned Kansas City Royals fan, you might be seeing the best catching duo in franchise history.