Other than the rule that whoever scores the most runs wins the game, nothing is truly certain about baseball. The variables are too many, the players human, and even the ball changes occasionally. Time and evolution force alteration, something from which teams so often trapped by tradition, like the KC Royals, can’t escape.
Some things, though, we can count on. Hitters who can’t hit and pitchers who can’t pitch don’t survive. Ninety feet will always separate the bases. And as it should be, the Cubs will find ways to never leave Wrigley, and the Red Sox will always play at Fenway.
And what of the Royals? On the surface, they seldom deviate from their own norms, rarely take chances, and wrongly or rightly remain committed to the concept Dayton Moore long ago coined “The Process.” The club tweaked its uniforms recently, but that doesn’t count as radical change.
Heading into the 2022 season, however, there are at least three things sure to happen in Kansas City.
Salvador Perez will spend more time as designated hitter for the KC Royals.
The talk of Salvador Perez eventually moving to first base has never been loud, perhaps because such a transfer, if it happens, will be born of necessity, compelled by age and the physical tolls of catching and not choice. Some may not speak of it simply because Perez playing first isn’t what they’re used to or want.
But the more likely Perez position switch is to designated hitter, a spot not at all unfamiliar to him. He’s DH’d 101 times in his 10-season career, 40 last year alone.
Expect him to DH more in 2022. The assignment provides crucial breaks from catching’s rigors, and increasing his turns there last season worked, at least from the perspectives of power and production—he slugged 15 homers and drove in 34 runs in the 40 games he DH’d.
His .218 average and .276 OBP were poor, as are his .237 and .276 career numbers. But clubs prefer home runs and RBIs, not walks and singles, from designated hitters, and Perez fits that profile with 27 homers and 65 RBIs in his 101 DH games. (Extrapolated, that’s 43.3 home runs and 104 RBIs every 162 games).
Add MJ Melendez, Perez’s presumptive catching successor, to the equation. The Royals must find a place for the slugger who led the minor leagues in homers last season; increasing Perez’s time at DH gives Melendez more catching opportunities when Manager Mike Matheny isn’t trying him at other positions.
Perez will DH more often this season.