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How much MVP consideration will Salvador Perez get?

Could he finish in the top ten in voting?

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Hitters aren’t supposed to get better at age 31, certainly not catchers, and certainly not catchers coming off Tommy John surgery. Salvador Perez doesn’t care. The seven-time All-Star is having a career month in what has been a career season. His 12 August home runs tied a club record for most home runs in a single month, and he tied Mike Sweeney’s record with home runs in five consecutive games. He has already set the record for most home runs by any American League player who has spent at least 75 percent of his games at catcher with a month left to go in the season.

His terrific season has spurred some discussion as to whether he could end up in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Salvy will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best power-hitting catchers of all-time - his 190 home runs are already 19th among all players who spent at least 75 percent of their time behind the plate. His low on-base percentage and debates about his framing could cost him some support. But as I wrote back in 2017, one of the missing elements from Salvy’s resume is a season in which he was considered among the best in baseball. Every catcher voted into the Hall of Fame since World War II has had multiple seasons where they finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. Salvador Perez has only received two MVP votes ever - both 10th place votes. That will change this year.

But how much MVP consideration will Salvador Perez receive from voters?

We still have a month to go, of course, but as it stands now, Shohei Ohtani will almost certainly win MVP, perhaps unanimously. After that, you’re likely to see top players from contending teams having terrific seasons, players like Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., Carlos Correa, Aaron Judge, and Matt Olson. Wins Above Replacement is not an end-all, be-all, but it is a useful guide to give us an idea who voters will consider. Baseball Reference WAR (bWAR) looks favorably upon Salvador Perez - he’s eighth among hitters-only (excluding Ohtani), while Fangraphs WAR (fWAR) has him much lower due to his poor framing.

I took the average of bWAR and fWAR and looked at top American League position players going into Tuesday’s games.

Top American League position players

Player Team Stats fWAR bWAR Average
Player Team Stats fWAR bWAR Average
Marcus Semien TOR .267/.334/.524 32 HR 5.3 5.7 5.5
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. TOR .313/.407/.599 38 HR 5.6 5.2 5.4
Carlos Correa HOU .275/.370/.477 20 HR 4.9 5.8 5.4
Jose Ramirez CLE .263/.349/.555 31 HR 5.0 5.3 5.1
Cedric Mullins BAL .306/.369/.531 24 HR 4.9 4.8 4.9
Aaron Judge NYY .294/.383/.537 29 HR 4.5 5.1 4.8
Matt Olson OAK .273/.373/.548 32 HR 4.4 4.5 4.5
Xander Bogaerts BOS .297/.365/.500 20 HR 4.5 4.1 4.3
Joey Gallo NYY .204/.363/.457 30 HR 3.6 4.6 4.1
Rafael Devers BOS .275/.349/.551 32 HR 4.5 3.6 4.1
Enrique Hernandez BOS .258/.346/.465 17 HR 3.6 4.4 4.0
Jorge Polanco MIN .273/.332/.492 24 HR 3.4 4.2 3.8
Tim Anderson CHW .302/.331/.3458 14 HR 3.5 3.9 3.7
Jose Altuve HOU .272/.346/.472 25 HR 4.0 3.3 3.7
Bo Bichette TOR .286/.335/.455 21 HR 3.3 3.9 3.6
Yoan Moncada CHW .264/.376/.399 11 HR 3.8 3.4 3.6
Brandon Lowe TBR .235/.339/.550 31 HR 3.8 3.3 3.6
Salvador Perez KCR .277/.315/.544 38 HR 2.6 4.4 3.5

After Ohtani, it seems very likely that voters will have some order of Vlad, Jr., Semien, Correa, Judge, Ramirez, and Olson. Cedric Mullins will be an interesting case because (1) he plays on the worst team in baseball; and (2) his traditional stats aren’t eye-popping. But he leads the league in hits, is batting .300+ in an era in which that is more difficult than ever, he steals bases, and he plays solid defense at a premium position in centerfield. I would expect him to get more support than Salvy due to WAR, but more old school voters may have him lower on their lists. Support for Mullins could actually help Perez a bit, as it is an indication that voters won’t care if a player is excelling for a losing team.

Boston is having a surprisingly good season, so there will be significant support for Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, both of whom are having outstanding seasons. That’s ten candidates right there, and that’s not including pitchers like Gerrit Cole, who could get some support as well. It is certainly possible that Salvy breaks into the top ten, particularly if he continues to go on a tear and finishes strong to end the season. But most likely he finishes right outside the top ten, in a tier that includes Joey Gallo, Enrique Hernandez, Tim Andreson, and Jose Altuve. He could get a bit of a bump if some voters appreciate his defense based on his reputation and his ability to throw out runners. But he could also get bumped down if other voters don’t like his defense due to framing.

Still, that would be his best finish ever in MVP voting, and he would at least have a shot to become the first Royals player to finish in the top ten in MVP voting since Lorenzo Cain finished third in 2015. Finishing in the top ten is a difficult feat. Hall of Famer George Brett only did it four times, and several very good players - Frank White, Kevin Appier, Johnny Damon, Mike Sweeney, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas - never managed to get that much MVP support in a Royals uniform.

Top ten MVP finishes in Royals history

Player Year Finish Stats
Player Year Finish Stats
Fred Patek 1971 6th .267/.323/.371 4.1 WAR
Amos Otis 1973 3rd .300/.368/.484, 4.0 WAR
John Mayberry 1973 7th .278/.417/.478, 5.2 WAR
John Mayberry 1975 2nd .291/.416/.547, 7.2 WAR
George Brett 1976 2nd .333/.377/.462, 7.5 WAR
Hal McRae 1976 4th .332/.407/.461, 4.7 WAR
Amos Otis 1976 7th .279/.341/.444, 3.2 WAR
Al Cowens 1977 2nd .312/.361/.525, 5.3 WAR
Amos Otis 1978 4th .298/.380/.525, 7.4 WAR
Darrell Porter 1978 10th .265/.358/.444, 4.2 WAR
George Brett 1979 3rd .329/.376/.563, 8.6 WAR
Darrell Porter 1979 9th .291/.421/.484, 7.6 WAR
George Brett 1980 1st .390/.454/.664, 9.4 WAR
Willie Wilson 1980 4th .326/.357/.421, 8.5 WAR
Dan Quisenberry 1980 8th 3.09 ERA, 33 SV, 2.4 WAR
Hal McRae 1982 4th .308/.369/.542, 4.1 WAR
Dan Quisenberry 1982 9th 2.57 ERA, 35 SV, 3.3 WAR
Dan Quisenberry 1983 6th 1.94 ERA, 45 SV, 5.5 WAR
Dan Quisenberry 1984 3rd 2.64 ERA, 44 SV, 3.3 WAR
Willie Wilson 1984 10th .301/.350/.390, 4.3 WAR
George Brett 1985 2nd .335/.436/.585, 8.3 WAR
Bret Saberhagen 1985 10th 20-6, 2.87 ERA, 7.1 WAR
Bret Saberhagen 1989 8th 23-6, 2.16 ERA, 9.7 WAR
Bo Jackson 1989 10th .256/.310/.495, 2.7 WAR
George Brett 1990 7th .329/.387/.515, 4.1 WAR
David Cone 1994 9th 16-5, 2.94 ERA, 6.9 WAR
Gary Gaetti 1995 10th .261/.329/.518, 3.4 WAR
Carlos Beltran 2003 9th .307/.389/.522, 5.8 WAR
Lorenzo Cain 2015 3rd .307/.361/.477, 7.0 WAR

WAR totals from Baseball-Reference


Should Salvador Perez finish in the top ten in MVP voting?

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