Grading the KC Royals: Why Salvador Perez isn't washed up

Kansas City's captain still contributes.
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Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman's offseason series analyzing the 2023 performances of various KC Royals players. Up for consideration today is team captain Salvador Perez.

In the not-too-subtle opinion of some fans, the time has come to write the final chapter of Salvador Perez's illustrious Kansas City career. He's aging, injury-prone, and regressing, they say across the baseball social media spectrum, and must be traded before the club exhausts all the value he has left.

But moving on from Perez won't be easy. After playing 12 seasons with the only big league team he's ever known, he's a franchise icon second only to George Brett in what he's done for and means to club and community. He still hits plenty of homers, still works well behind the plate, and now, when developing more versatility can extend his career, shows more than just a little promise as a part-time first baseman.

Perez's detractors tend to focus not on those factors, but on the notion that teams need to trade players when their value begins to decrease, even if following such a path might rob a club of still-valuable production and leadership. Sure, dealing away stars for prospects has its good side, but the practice can also prolong agonizing rebuilds like the Royals'.

Some seem to believe Perez is washed up. And many say his 2023 numbers prove he needs to go.

But is either opinion really the case?

How did Salvador Perez perform for the Royals this season?

Yes, Father Time is catching up with Salvador Perez, but not as quickly as some think. This season wasn't his best, but there's still enough left in the eight-time All-Star's tank to warrant keeping him around.

Perez's 2023 numbers aren't, in the context of his career, bad. He hit 23 homers for the second season in a row; only three times has he hit more. His 80 RBIs, which he achieved for the third time, tied for the second most of his career. The 20 doubles he collected represent the seventh time he's had 20 or more.

And what of suggestions that he's too often injured? Yes, he spent some time on the Injured List this season, but injuries are nothing new to Perez and the 140 games he played are the fourth-highest in his career. Big league players don't appear in that many games if plagued by injuries.

On the other hand, his .255/.292/.422 slash wasn't stellar and doesn't measure up to many of his previous lines, and his 94 OPS+ was his worst since he posted a 91 in 2018. Also concerning, at least on the surface, is that Perez, usually a threat to even the best base stealers, caught only 14% of those who ran on him in 2023, a rate below league average and well under his career 34% rate. Whether bigger bases, new to the majors this season and which shorten the distance between each base, accounts for some of that difference is difficult to know.

What grade should Salvador Perez get for the 2023 KC Royals season?

His entire 2023 body of work considered, though, Perez was still productive. We're giving him a B.

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