Originally written on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 9/18/12

Molina and….Molina?

Go ahead and call me a “birther” if you will, but I demand to see Salvador Perez‘s birth certificate.  Just pull back the facade of falsified documentation, and give it to me straight.  He’s a Molina.  I’m certain of this.  Allegedly, Perez was born in Venezuela, but Venezuela sits just a short popfly away from Puerto Rico on the global scale of things.  There must be someone out there who can help me prove that the Royals somehow found the “lost” Molina brother.  Granted, the family resemblance may not be striking, but half-brother would not be far-fetched.

How else can you explain the way Perez plays the game?

He has exactly 100 games of Major League Baseball experience under his belt, yet he shows many signs of baseball maturity befitting a man 10 years his elder.  For the love of all things Molina, the man just turned 22 at the beginning of this season.  In 2012 alone, Perez-Molina has accounted for 2.4 WAR which basically guarantees a solid return on the 5 yr / $7M investment the Royals made in him.  That’s the baseball equivalent of buying Apple at a discount to original opening price and selling right after an iPhone/iPad announcement.  Once you recoup that initial outlay, everything else basically represents pure gravy (minus capital gains taxes in the event you sell early).  Perez-Molina is Google, Microsoft, and Amazon all in one.

About that 2.4 WAR – it does not just come from competent work at the plate.  Given just 64 games (259 PAs), Perez-Molina boasts a line of .310/.336/.510/.846 with 11 HR and 36 RBI.  That helps explain the 2.0 oWAR.  His total DRS (defensive runs saved) stands at 7 which ties him for 2nd among all MLB catchers with Ryan Hanigan.  The difference between the 2 of them is that Hanigan has played 787.0 innings at catcher.  PM just reached 553.0 innings played.  The guy leading both of them?  Yadier Molina, of course.  Molina has a DRS total of 17.  Of course, Molina has built that number over the course of 1045.2 innings played.

PM does not simply save runs by blocking the plate or throwing out his share of would-be base stealers.  Nope.  He guns down would-be thieves at a rate of 44% against a league average of just 25%.  Not to be outdone, his older brother (or half-brother) throws out 46% of all potential base stealers (league avg of 27%).  So, if you happen to be keeping score at home, the summary goes….

  • Yadier Molina – .320/.376/.502/.878, 139 OPS+, 27 doubles, 19 HR, 67 RBI in 125 games
  • Sal Perez-Molina – .310/.336/.510/.846, 128 OPS+, 16 doubles, 11 HR, 36 RBI in 64 games

Now, it might be a logical stretch to simply extrapolate Perez’s numbers to compare apples to apples, but that Perez-Molina guy still has a long way to go.  Molina’s 6.3 WAR (4.5 oWAR and 2.5 dWAR) places him among the top 5 most productive players in the NL (based on WAR).  He did not get to that point overnight, and he certainly was not a .300 hitter at age 22.

The more Perez produces over the next year or so, the more the long term signing appears to be a bargain for the Royals.  After all, Molina made $3.3M in his 5th year.  Perez is signed for $2.0M for his 5th year, and those numbers are not inflation adjusted.  However, the real kicker for the Perez deal gives the Royals team options that total $14.75M for Perez’s age 27-29 season.  Compare that to the $26.3M the Cardinals pay Molina for his 7th, 8th, and 9th seasons.

None of this gives me the confidence to project Sal Perez as the next Yadier Molina or Ivan Rodriguez, but he has gotten off to a great start.  Better yet, his work this year has already provided some justification for the move the Royals made to lock him down long term.  For a team that operates on a relatively small budget, the possibility of having an elite catcher for a relatively low price means an awful lot.  Maybe others will recognize Sal Perez-Molina for what he has already accomplished at the most demanding position in baseball.

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