Salvador Perez is the only catcher in MLB history to bat over .300 twice before turning 23 (minimum 100 PA). That right there explains why he’s so hyped entering 2013, and he even has some pop in that bat of his.
Perez is at the heart of Kansas City’s current youth movement with defensive skills that rival his potential offensive prowess, however in most fantasy leagues it’s just the bat that we care about. He rarely walks (just 3.9% last year), but he rarely strikes out, too (8.9%). He’s managed a 25.3% line-drive rate in 437 career at-bats — almost a full season’s worth — and he STILL ISN’T 23!
Last year was a semi-lost season as Perez didn’t make his debut until June 22, but he’s Kansas City’s clear number one catcher. We’ll see how much playing time that equates to, but if Perez can get 500+ at-bats, he has a good chance of having a big impact this year.
At a Glance
Strengths: BA, K, SLG
Neutral: R, HR, RBI, OBP, OPS
Best-case scenario: Joe Mauer (MIN)
Likely scenario: Yadier Molina (STL), Miguel Montero (ARI), Nick Markakis (BAL)
Worst-case scenario: Carlos Ruiz (PHI)
Salvador Perez 2013 Fantasy Projection
Every fiber of my being wanted to project Perez for a .325 average (or at least something very high), but he still hasn’t faced the rigors of a full, 162-game season and it remains to be seen what kind of BABIP we can expect on a yearly basis from him. For now, Perez’s .299 BABIP last year seems easily repeatable given how many line drives he hits, so we figure that will go up to something in the .315-.320 range.
If only he hit more fly balls, though. While Perez’s 13.1% HR/FB rate is pretty good, he’ll need to hit fly balls more than 31.7% of the time if he wants to be a 20-homer threat. My guess is at some point in his career we’ll see him trade a few of those liners for flies, and that could mean a little more pop at the slight expense of his batting average, but that trade-off will be rather negligible.
Right now he’s slated to bay sixth for the Royals with the right-handed-yet-offensively-inept Brett Hayes as his backup so Perez should see plenty of playing time this year, probably sitting against tough left-handers and remaining the everyday catcher otherwise. With enough at-bats and RBI opportunities, we could be looking at the next Joe Mauer.