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Salvador Perez is slumping in the second half again

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Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest worries about Salvador Perez in regards to his future is overuse. Ned Yost and the Royals have used Perez a lot in his young-ish career. Since 1913 only seven other catchers have played as many games as Perez through his current age.

Player Games at catcher
Johnny Bench 871
Ivan Rodriguez 854
Butch Wynegar 801
Ted Simmons 797
Ray Schalk 754
Tim McCarver 683
Gary Carter 659
Salvador Perez 642
Mickey Owen 637
Jason Kendall 637

Bench is clearly at the top and Rodriguez has a decent lead on Wynegar, but the last four or five are all pretty close to each other.

Another thing worth mentioning about Perez is that he's big for not only a catcher, but for a baseball player in general. Baseball Reference lists Perez at 6'3" and 240 lbs. Looking at catchers who are at least 75 inches tall and weigh at least 225 pounds, Perez stands far above all else in most games played at catcher (again through age 26).

Player G Ht Wt
Salvador Perez 642 75 240
A.J. Pierzynski 430 75 250
John Buck 416 75 245
Wilson Ramos 326 73 255
Chris Snyder 315 76 235

This was one of the main concerns when the Royals renegotiated Perez's deal, giving him much more money. Bigger baseball players (and athletes/humans in general) generally don't age quite as well as their smaller companions. I'm not tall nor particularly old but I'm not aging very well myself. I can't imagine being 5-6 inches taller and 50-60 pounds heavier, crouching for a few hours a day while taking 2-3 swings every day (yes, that's a riff at Perez's plate discipline).

So maybe the next chart won't be much of a surprise to you when you remember Perez's size, workload, and the stresses of catching:

That's a 20-game rolling average of Perez's wRC+ over this season. You can see to start the year Perez was pretty hot, cooled off considerably in early-mid May before going on a tear from late-May to early July. However from July on Perez has been struggling.

Half BB% K% BB/K AVG OBP SLG ISO BABIP wRC+
1st Half 4.2% 23.4% 0.18 0.283 0.318 0.500 0.217 0.330 114
2nd Half 2.70% 19.60% 0.14 0.204 0.236 0.387 0.183 0.215 59

Perez was never never one to walk, but they have been halved in the latter frame of the season. He's hitting for far less power too. There is some perhaps BABIP luck attributing the poor second half numbers but that could also be a cause of poor hitting. After all, he's hitting 55% worse since play resumed from the break.

Leading up to the All-Star break, Perez was on pace to putting up the best season of his career, heavily rewarding the Royals faith in paying him more money.

Name HR ISO wRC+ Def WAR
Wilson Ramos 13 0.206 143 5.3 2.7
Buster Posey 11 0.186 126 5.8 2.6
Jonathan Lucroy 11 0.188 121 5.5 2.6
Salvador Perez 14 0.217 114 8.9 2.2
J.T. Realmuto 5 0.109 108 6.5 2.1

He was doing everything. He had the most home runs among catchers, he was hitting for power, and playing the best defense. Then the 2nd half started...

Name HR ISO wRC+ Def WAR
Russell Martin 8 0.271 157 1.1 1.6
Evan Gattis 9 0.288 159 0.3 1.5
Yasmani Grandal 9 0.281 144 2.5 1.3
Yadier Molina 2 0.141 133 1.5 1.1
Buster Posey 1 0.091 120 2.7 1.1
J.T. Realmuto 2 0.117 101 3.3 0.9
Wilson Ramos 7 0.183 104 2.7 0.7
Salvador Perez 6 0.183 59 4.3 0.1
Brian McCann 2 0.068 70 0.1 -0.1

He's been surpassed in home runs by many of his catching counterparts, and is hitting far worse than them too. The defense is still there but it's not good enough to make up for his offense, leaving Perez basically replacement level this half.

Player 1st half wRC+ 2nd half wRC+ wRC+ Diff. 1st half WAR 2nd half WAR WAR Diff.
David Ortiz 184 125 -59 3.4 0.4 -3
David Freese 131 73 -58 1.9 -0.1 -2
Wil Myers 134 77 -57 3.2 0.2 -3
Melvin Upton Jr. 104 47 -57 1.6 -0.2 -1.8
Eric Hosmer 121 65 -56 0.8 -0.9 -1.7
Salvador Perez 114 59 -55 2.2 0.1 -2.1
Jonathan Schoop 124 70 -54 2.2 0.0 -2.2

Now Perez hasn't had the worst drop off from the first half to the second but he's been among the ten worst hitters during the back stretch. He's joined in his decline by teammate Eric Hosmer as well, likely being partially responsible for the horrid July the Royals had.

Perez has never been patient but there was a time early on in the season when he showed some semblance of patience. But as the season went on, Perez has returned back to his old ways of swinging at outside pitches and swinging more overall.

This isn't new for Perez. He's slumped in the second half before too.

For the first half of each season of his career, Perez owns a 106 wRC+. In the second half of each season, he has an 88 wRC+ (18% worse).

Maybe it's overuse. Perez has played a lot of games in his career and Ned Yost hasn't stepped off the gas. In the 2nd half so far this season, Perez has played in more games than any other catcher.