KC Royals catcher Salvador Perez collected his fourth Gold Glove on Tuesday, and added his first American League Silver Slugger award on Wednesday.
Thus, Salvador Perez has been pretty much proclaimed the best catcher in the American League by his peers. If you’re the best defensive catcher as well as the best hitting catcher, it sort of follows that you’d pretty much have to be the best in the league at your position.
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Oh yeah, Salvador Perez also earned his fourth straight All-Star berth for the Kansas City Royals in 2016.
Despite all of those accolades, winning the Silver Slugger award was something of a surprise. Salvador Perez didn’t really have a great year at the plate. He only slashed 247/.288/.438 in 2016, but did have a career-high 22 home runs. That left him with a mere 88 wRC+ (adjusted runs created 12% below a league average hitter).
However, Perez was only one of three American League catchers to accumulate enough innings to “qualify” for awards at the position along with Russell Martin and Stephen Vogt. Vogt hit .251/.305/.406 with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs. Russell Martin slashed .231/.335/.398 with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs.
While both players posted higher runs created than Perez at 93 wRC+ for Vogt and 99 wRC+ for Martin, Perez was close. Add in that Perez enjoyed a stellar first half in which he slashed an outstanding .283/.313/.500, and he likely won the Silver Slugger due to the strong impression Perez made on his peers early in the season.
Coaches and players around baseball could have recognized Perez crashed at the plate due to his heavy use the last three seasons.
With Kendrys Morales signing with the Toronto Blue Jays this winter, perhaps Perez will get more rest. If the KC Royals go to a rotating designated hitter, manager Ned Yost could keep Perez’s bat in the lineup without wearing him down by asking him to catch so many games.
The ideal situation is for the Kansas City Royals to re-sign free-agent Drew Butera, who enjoyed his best offensive season in 2016 by slashing a solid .285/.328/.480. Since both Perez and Butera hit right handed, the KC Royals could load up a righty-heavy lineup against left-handed starters by using Perez as a DH.
The platoon advantage could help offset any offensive downgrade by playing Butera on a regular basis. And, regular rest might prevent the typical second half slide that has plagued Perez the last three seasons.