Salvador Perez Has the Chance to Bolster His Hall of Fame Case

Salvador Perez is one of the most prolific catchers of his time. With a strong 2024, he could bolster an interesting Hall of Fame case.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 23: Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals hits against the Toronto Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium on April 23, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Unless you live in what’s considered the flyover states, there’s a good chance a lot of what transpires in the American League and National League Central gets overlooked. No pun intended.

Take a moment to observe the Kansas City Royals and their impressive 19-13 start. Bolstered by homegrown talent and a number of players acquired during an unusually busy offseason, the Royals are one of the reasons the AL Central owns three of the best six records in the Junior Circuit. 

In the middle of that success is probably the first player that comes to mind when you consider the denizens of Kauffmann Stadium: Bobby Witt Jr. The five-tool superstar continues to draw attention for his outstanding performances on a daily basis. The nearly $300 million extension before the start of the season also helped attract more eyes.

But there’s another player that deserves a little more attention than the latest cornerstone player for the Royals.

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Salvador Perez has been donning the tools of ignorance as good as any for well over a decade. He debuted at the age of 21 and eventually hit his first home run off future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer. Perez has been around so long that only 18 position players who appeared in 2011 are listed as active and one is still catching: Martin Maldonado of the division rival Chicago White Sox.

No one in their right mind would dispute that Perez has had a notable career. However, a deeper dive shows a player who’s been amongst the best at his craft, a player on the path to reaching the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Where does he stand all-time and how can the man known as “Salvy” in the City of Fountains add to his Cooperstown case in 2024? 

Current Résumé

With eight All-Star Games under his belt, including four when he was selected by fans as the AL starter, Perez is already in great company.

A total of 15 backstops have ever earned more selections to the Midsummer Classic. Nine of those players are already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Class of 2024 inductee Joe Mauer had only six, but it was enough for him to appear on the requisite 75% of ballots in just his first year.

It should be mentioned that Mauer did win an MVP. He also won three batting titles, something no other catcher has done.

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Perez also has some impressive accomplishments for a catcher. When he tied for the 2021 AL lead in homers with 48, he set a new record in the process for most home runs by a catcher in a single season. His 28 home runs in the first round of that year’s Home Run Derby against eventual winner Pete Alonso is also the greatest performance by a catcher in the history of the competition.

At 253 career home runs — with 206 coming as a catcher — the Venezuelan native has a strong chance to become only the eighth player at the position to reach 300 home runs.

With four Silver Slugger Awards, only eight catchers have ever won more. A win this season would cut the list in half and tie him with Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Joe Mauer, in addition to potential inductee Buster Posey.

As it stands, he leads in nearly every offensive category for a catcher in the AL through the month of April: batting average (.355), home runs (7) and RBI (26). When factoring only those with enough games to qualify for the batting title, Perez is also tops in on-base percentage (.415) and slugging percentage (.598).

You may have forgotten about his five Gold Glove Awards since he hasn’t won since 2018. In the 67 years of the honor, only five backstops have accumulated more trophies from Rawlings than him. Two are already enshrined in Cooperstown (Ivan Rodríguez and Johnny Bench), and a third is awaiting his opportunity (Yadier Molina). 

Then there’s everything he accomplished with the Royals in 2014-15. After leading the club in 2014 to their first postseason appearance in 29 years, Perez batted .364 to help Kansas City win only their second ever championship in 2015. His reward: a unanimous selection as World Series MVP.

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Gaining Ground

Currently ranked as the 32nd-best catcher all-time by JAWS, Perez will need to gain a lot of ground for a voting populace that has been picky at the position. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has elected only 11 catchers since the first ballot in 1936 (the other nine in the Hall were selected through various special committees).

Signed through 2025 with a $13.5 million team option in 2026, Perez can help his cause by compiling both home runs, RBI and WAR. The 33-year-old has done a great job in all three areas through the Royals first 31 games of the season and should be able to continue doing so with the current roster around him.

Perez leads the AL in runs batted in thanks to a top of the order consisting of Maikel Garcia, Witt and Vinnie Pasquantino. While Witt is the only one getting on base better than league-average at this point, both he and Garcia are making it easier for Perez to drive them home thanks to a combined 17 stolen bases.

The résumé for Perez has been hindered by a lack of top 10 finishes in MVP voting, something he’s accomplished only once. That’s not to say he hasn’t been incredibly valuable to KC. During the two and only postseason appearances, more high-profile players such as Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas were credited with the club’s success.  

In 2024, should the Royals continue to win with Perez as a key contributor, it’s not unreasonable to think he and Witt – who is clearly benefiting from the presence of Perez behind him in the lineup – will both receive acknowledgement on AL MVP ballots.

Perez also deserves credit for handling a pitching staff that is third in all of baseball with a 128 ERA+. No, Zack Greinke is no longer around and back to being in the upper echelon of starters. Instead, it’s been a revolving door at Kauffmann Stadium with nine pitchers on the current staff of 13 new to Kansas City since the end of last season. Only two of those 13 actually began 2023 in the organization.

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The stability in performance deserves praise for Perez and his partner behind the plate, fellow Venezuelan Freddy Fermin.

The Royals are pulling off the unexpected. In fact, they should have an even better record thanks to a run differential that’s tied for best in the American League.

What’s not unforeseen is that Salvador Perez is at the center of this success. Prepare for the conversation about his Hall of Fame candidacy to only increase as his club continues to battle for another division title on his watch.