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
|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
|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?
This poll is closed