The Kansas City Royals were without their main leader on the field in 2019. How can Salvador Perez help the team get back on track in 2020?
The 2019 MLB regular season may have caused some of us to forget that Salvador Perez was supposed to be the new face of the Kansas City Royals franchise. Following the departures of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, Perez inherited the role. He’s earned it, too.
A six-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, Perez has been regarded as one of the best catchers in all of baseball for the past half-decade. That reputation took a bit of a hit, though, when the Venezuelan-born superstar injured the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow during 2019 Spring Training. This would cause him to miss the entire season, and the results showed on the field.
Attendance for Royals games in 2019 was 1,479,659, its lowest point since 2006. Going 59-103 on the season, Perez being in the picture might have saved the team from losing 100 games for the second-straight campaign, but that’s about it. As the organization transitions into a period of new ownership and management, Perez will be returning at full health in 2020. How can he help get the team moving in the right direction?
First and foremost, there’s no easy way to replace the savvy of Perez behind the plate. His pitch framing is questionable but other than that, there aren’t many better defensive catchers in the game. He’s also notorious for developing excellent relationships with his pitching staff. With Perez on the field, regardless of how many innings he’s limited to, it’s a huge plus for the pitching staff and a huge negative for opposing baserunners.
Perez’s bat is far from perfect. He doesn’t walk a lot, which is largely impacted by his lack of plate discipline. With that said, he’s been good for 27 home runs and 80 RBIs in each of his last two healthy seasons. No catcher in the Royals organization is able to sniff that level of sheer power. It’s easy to salivate at the idea of Perez surrounded by names like Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler in the 2020 batting order.
Not only will having Salvador Perez back on the field help the Kansas City Royals’ product, but it’ll help sell it to fans. Attendance will be on the rise. The face of the franchise will be visible on most days. The lineup is set to be more potent. Team morale should increase. All-in-all, Perez is piece critical to the success of the 2020 — and beyond — Royals.