The KC Royals backstop position was significantly upgraded by the return of a Gold Glover and All-Star. What are the catchers’ grades for 2020?
Our Kings of Kauffman writers have reviewed the 2020 season and graded the KC Royals. In this fifth installment of a series covering each position group, Shawn Bauman assigns grades to the club’s catchers.
Salvador Perez: A+
The “what if” can be played about whether Salvy would have been able to maintain his torrid pace over a normal schedule, but we are grading solely on the product put on the field when he played. There is no denying Perez put on a tremendous display this season.
A batting average at .333, an OPS of .633, and OPS+ of 161 speak for themselves. More than individual glory, the Royals winning percentage increased by over 100 points when he was on the roster not dealing with the vision problems that cost him three weeks of action.
His framing on pitches just on inside or outside of the plate—depending on which side of the plate the batter was on—ranked high. For catchers who called at least 750 pitches during the year, he ranked second and sixth overall for balls in those locations.
Bottom line is that Perez had a terrific season. It will be tough to duplicate that success but he seems to be getting better with age.
Cam Gallagher: B
Gallagher was the starter behind the plate the majority of the time while Perez was out with the injury. He began 19 games at catcher and played in 25 overall. One nice difference from past seasons is that he slashed a .283/.356/.434 line, all career bests for him.
Although opponents were 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts against him, Gallagher still managed to score a (+3) on defensive runs saved above average. Except for pitches below the strike zone though, he was usually last among the three catchers we graded on framing percentage.
Meibrys Viloria: D
There was not much playing time for Viloria as he only started seven times and recorded a total of 24 plate appearances. His batting average and slugging slipped from last season and except for one minor league season, he has not shown much pop.
Despite having far fewer innings caught than Gallagher, he gave up one more stolen base and also did not throw anyone out. From 2018-2019, Viloria only made one error in 383 chances but equaled that in just 66 chances in 2020.
Overall, it was a pretty good year for catchers with the KC Royals, minus the throwing base runners out. It is still apparent there is not a good solution to take over for Perez down the road. He might not be willing to give that up for a while as it is.