A changing of the Silver Slugger guard at catcher?
First up, who is Perez's competition? Here are the candidates and some of their offensive highlights.
Cal Raleigh (Seattle): .232/.306/.456, 30 home runs, 75 RBIs, 23 doubles, 234 total bases.
Adley Rutschman (Baltimore): .277/.374/.435, 20 home runs, 80 RBIs, 31 doubles, 256 total bases
Salvador Perez (KC): .255/.292/.422, 23 home runs, 80 RBIs, 21 doubles, 227 total bases
If I were comparing this race to the Best Actor nominations for the Academy Awards, Raleigh would be the obscure young actor recognized for his role in an independent film. He had the most pop of the finalists with 30 dingers, but also the most strikeouts with 158. Only 26, he still has the potential to accomplish great things, but in 2023, it feels like it should be an honor just to be nominated.
Perez, on the other hand, is the esteemed veteran. Think of him as Robert De Niro. The 2023 season was not even close to his finest offensive year, but with 12 years of major league experience under his belt, he deserves recognition for even his B-level performances. He had the lowest walk percentage among qualified AL hitters, and his .714 OPS was his lowest since 2018. He matched his 2022 home run total, but it took him 26 more games to do it.
That's not to say there weren't highlights. The Royals named the franchise's fourth-ever captain in March and he hit his 200th career homer to become just the 10th player in MLB history to hit that many as a catcher. Overall, however, Perez was streaky in 2023, which made the holes in his game all the more visible and opened the door for Rutschman to pass him by.
If Perez is De Niro, and MLB is Martin Scorcese in this scenario, Rutschman is Leonardo DiCaprio swooping in to steal all the best lead roles. Rutschman was voted the AL's starting catcher in the All-Star Game, and he feels like a shoo-in to beat out Raleigh and Perez for the Silver Slugger. One of the leaders of a young Orioles team that won 101 games, he has the best all-around numbers.
Kansas City fans won't want to hear it, but at this stage of their careers, Rutschman is a better catcher than Perez. That doesn't mean Salvy is through and can't still do great things, but he's not bringing home the Silver Slugger this time.
What about Witt's chances?