Cleveland Indians Top 25 in 2016: No. 21, Roberto Perez

Our look at the top 25 Cleveland Indians continues with Roberto Perez, the catcher who stepped into the starting role and did a great job.

Cleveland Indians catcher Roberto Perez was never supposed to be the starter during the regular season. He was never supposed to start all 15 postseason games. But he did just that, and he did a solid job.

Perez dealt with some injury issues of his own in 2016 before coming back in July and effectively becoming the first catcher on the roster, sometimes splitting time with Chris Gimenez. A nearly season-ending injury to Yan Gomes put Perez in the forefront, and he held his own all the way until the end of the season.

Perez finished the regular season with a slash line of .183/.285/.294, which is not exactly great. But he did remain reliable on defense at a time when fans were still angry about losing out on Jonathan Lucroy.

The offense wasn’t great, but Perez did step it up in the postseason. In fact, he hit a solo home run in Game 1 of the ALDS that helped propel the Indians to a 5-4 victory. One could even say his home run made the ultimate difference in the game.

Then came Game 1 of the World Series when Perez hit not one, but two home runs in a 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. It was an unexpected display of power from the unlikely hero, but it showed just how deep the Indians were in 2016.

Perez is hardly the favorite to open the season as the starter in 2017, but he could see a great deal of playing time if Gomes continues to struggle at the plate. Perez wasn’t a great hitter in 2016, but his bright spots in the postseason showed he is capable of picking up a big hit, even if he finished the second season with a .186 batting average.

Roberto Perez was not a hero for the Indians in 2016, but he took advantage of a tough situation, especially with Lucroy thrown in, and never gave fans a reason to be too frustrated with him. He was never supposed to be the starter, but he made the most of it and gave fans reasons to cheer like crazy at several points in October. And for that, Perez ends up on this list.

Be sure to check out the site later today for the next installment of the Top 25 Indians in 2016.

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