KC Royals: An award Salvador Perez probably won’t win
Salvador Perez has more Silver Sluggers to his name than anyone in the history of the KC Royals, including George Brett, so it’s not stunning that he’s once again a nominee for the award bat giant Hillerich & Bradsby annually presents to the “best offensive producer” at every hitting position in each league.
But it is a bit surprising.
After all, recurring thumb issues forced Perez out of action for almost seven weeks of the 2022 season and he played only 114 games. He hit 25 homers less and drove in 45 fewer runs than he did in 2021. His average dropped 19 points, his OBP 24, and his SLG 79.
And, other than former Royal and current Astro Martín Maldonado, whose .186 average alone renders his candidacy a non-starter, the field of finalists Perez is up against—Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk, Baltimore’s Adley Rutschman, Oakland’s Sean Murphy and Seattle’s Cal Raleigh—is formidable.
Perez’s chances of winning his fifth Silver Slugger aren’t great.
This year’s competition is stiff for KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Although they certainly weren’t what they were last season, Perez’s 2022 numbers were still good enough to impress the American League managers and coaches who voted for this year’s Silver Slugger awards. Perez paced Kansas City with 23 homers, his 76 RBIs were second to Bobby Witt Jr.’s 80, and his 23 doubles trailed only Witt’s 31 and Hunter Dozier’s 26. He slashed .254/.292/.465 and posted, per FanGraphs, a 108 wRC+.
How does that body of work stack up against the rest of the six-catcher Silver Slugger field? Maldonado played one less game than Perez and homered 15 times, but that sub-Mendoza Line average and his 70 wRC+ are disqualifiers.
Raleigh hit only .211, but his 27 home runs, 63 RBIs and 20 doubles in 119 games make his candidacy much better than Maldonado’s, and his 121 wRC+ trailed only Rutschman’s 133, Kirk’s 129 and Murphy’s 122 among regularly-playing AL catchers.
Rutschman, a legitimate AL Rookie of the Year candidate, played 113 times and had fewer home runs (13) and RBIs (42) than the other five Silver Slugger finalists. He hit .254 but posted a good .362 OBP and had the best OPS+ at 128.
Murphy played more games (148) than any other finalist; his .250/.332/.426 line and 37 doubles, 18 homers and 66 runs driven in will push him past Maldonado, and possibly Raleigh.
Toronto’s Kirk, who made the All-Star team for the first time, slashed .285/.372/.415 with 14 homers and 63 RBIs in 139 games.
So, who wins? Definitely not Maldonado.
And probably not Perez. Although his 23 homers rank second among the finalists and his .254 average ties Rutschman for second, he lags far behind Rutschman, Kirk, Murphy, and Raleigh in wRC+.
That leaves the race between Rutschman, Kirk, Murphy and Raleigh, although Raleigh’s .211 average might, despite his 27 homers, make him less likely to win than the other three.
At least for this year, a fifth Silver Slugger probably isn’t in the cards for the Royals’ Salvador Perez.