Grading the KC Royals: Second half saves Salvador Perez

(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports) /

For KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez, the 2022 season involved none of the riveting excitement of his 2021 campaign. He broke no records, failed to make the American League All-Star team, probably won’t win another Silver Slugger award, and missed a good bit of the season on the Injured List.

It wasn’t the best of times for Perez and isn’t worthy of the A+ we gave him for his stellar performance last year. Only a second half surge at the plate this season saves him from a bad 2022 grade.

Appreciating how much better Perez played after the All-Star Break requires a look back.

Salvador Perez struggled in the first half of the KC Royals’ 2022 season.

Perhaps Perez’s marvelous 2021 campaign, impossible to forget and too good to prevent some fans from anticipating more of the same, raised unreasonable expectations.

After all, Perez led the majors with 121 RBIs. The 48 home runs he clubbed broke Johnny Bench’s single-season record for primary catchers, and deadlocked him with the Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the big league lead and with Jorge Soler for the Royals’ all-time season best. He also played in his eighth All-Star Game and won a fourth Silver Slugger to move past George Brett for the club’s all-time high.

But Perez’s 2022 started slowly. He went hitless in his first three games and batted only .206 in April.

May was worse. Perez managed only one homer, slashed .177/.198/.266, and a thumb injury forced him to the IL for 10 days. He ended the month with a .191 season average.

Perez was batting .254 for June with five home runs when he reinjured his thumb, headed back to the IL, and underwent surgery. He returned to the lineup July 29.

It was then that the fun began.

KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez turned things around in the second half.

Back in the lineup against the Yankees in New York, Perez wasted little time getting on track. He hammered a three-run homer off Yankee starter Gerrit Cole in his third at-bat and failed to get at least one hit in only four of his first 20 games back, a span during which he hit .272 with six homers and 19 RBIs. And he stayed hot, slashing .309/.342/.509 in August and .300/.336/.480 in September-October.

Thumb soreness caused Perez to miss the season’s final four games, but he finished with 23 homers and 76 RBIs, not bad numbers considering his poor first half and a thumb that cost him seven weeks on the IL.

So, how to grade Perez’s 2022 season? He definitely doesn’t get the A+ he received last year, or even an A-. But his excellent second half turned what would have been a certain C—or worse—into a solid B.

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Give Salvador Perez a B for 2022.