I had the gall to suggest in late December that I wasn’t sold on Salvador Perez being a .300 hitter with 20 homer power for 2013. Seems like I touched a nerve because a whole lot of people called me out on the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account for the statement. I thought I would take more than 140 characters to try and make my point this week.
* I went beyond just the suggestion on Twitter as I ran a poll asking how folks would draft Perez compared to others at the catcher’s position.
Here’s what the basic argument was with Perez and why most thought he would be a star.
He hit .311 in 148 at-bats in 2011.
He hit .301 in 289 at-bats in 2012.
He hit 11 homers in 76 games in 2012.
Obviously he is therefore going to hit .300 with 20+ homers if he gets 500 at-bats in 2013.
Yes it is true that Perez has hit .311 over the course of 437 big league at-bats. Is that indicative of what we should expect from him in 2013? Perez posted a .362 BABIP as a first year player and that number predictably regressed in 2012 falling all the way to .299. It certainly happens, but it is a bit strange to see a guy hit .301 with a BABIP below .300. I’d suggest it’s not likely to continue like that, not to mention that his BABIP in the minors in 2011-12 was slightly lower than his big league mark at .311. Just pointing that out.
Following up on the BABIP talk, let’s look at his line drive rate. In 2011 that mark was 29.2 percent. He’d have to be the greatest hitter of all-time to keep that up. He isn’t and he didn’t as the mark fell to 24.2 percent in 2012. That’s still a massive number though, and one that I wouldn’t feel comfortable expecting to occur again in 2013. If logic and history aren’t enough for you to go on here, how about this fact; as a minor leaguer in the 2011-12 Perez posted a line drive rate of 19.9 percent which just so happens to be the big league average. It certainly doesn’t seem wise to expect him to match his current 25.8 percent career mark with the Royals given the totality of the data.
I would also like to point out that this guy just doesn’t walk. He has coaxed a total of 19 walks over the course of his 463 career plate appearances. That rate equates to a walk total of 21 walks per 502 plate appearances. Folks, Adam Dunn walked 26 times in the month of May last year. Moreover, do you know how many guys hit .300 last year with a walk rate as low as the 3.9 percent mark that Perez had? It’s not a long list. Here are the names… there are none. Not a single guy with 502 plate appearances in 2012 hit .300 with a walk rate under 4.0 percent. None. No one did in 2011 or 2010 either. The last guy to do it was Miguel Tejada in 2009 when he hit .313 with a 2.8 percent mark. The problem is that when you don’t see pitches and take a walk you can be pitched to. It’s also very hard for these type of hitters to pull out of a slump when they find themselves in one. It’s true that Perez makes good contact, his K-rate of 8.9 percent is very low enabling him to post a basically league average 0.40 BB/K mark, but the lack of walks are a big concern for me and should be for you as well if you are thinking he’s going to hit .300 year after year.
Sorry folks, but that’s 0-for-3 for Perez if you are trying to make the point that he is a lock to hit .300 in 2013.
What about the power you say?
(1) The easiest thing in the world is to say that ‘he hit 11 homers in 289 at-bats last year so he’ll hit 20 in a full season this year.’ Such an argument, while a good one to make at a bar on a Friday night after five midori sour’s (and let me tell you that you have to be very secure in your manhood to order one of those at a bar), just doesn’t hold up in the light of day. Even if we give Perez 500 at-bats in 2013 as a projection, an I would be remiss if I didn’t state that there were only six catchers in baseball that reached that mark last season, and let him maintain his rate of one homer per 26.3 at-bats he would still only go deep 19 times in 500 at-bats.
(2) Perez has only 14 homers in 437 career big league at bats.
(3) Perez has only 20 homers in 1,278 minor league at-bats.
(4) That’s 34 homers in 1,715 big league at-bats. What would that equate to over our hypothetical 500 at-bat season? That’s 9.9 homers folks.
(5) Perez had a fly ball rate of 27.7 percent in 2011-12 in the minors. During his big league action in 2011-12 he’s had a fly ball rate of 30.9 percent. That equates to a fly ball rate of roughly 30 percent. The big league average is about 36 percent. Therefore, if Perez is going to hit 20 homers with an inferior fly ball rate, he’s going to need to be money in the HR/F conversation ratio. He’s not. In his 115 game big league career that mark is only 11.5 percent (the big league average is usually right around 10 percent). That mark in the minors (2011-12) was 10.4 percent.
I’m sorry folks but Perez simply doesn’t profile as a .300 hitter with 20+ homer power in 2013. Could he hit .300? Sure. Could he hit 20 homers? I can’t say it’s not possible, but I highly doubt it. Would I bet any money that he would reach both marks in the coming campaign? Absolutely not. Don’t take this to mean that I wouldn’t want Perez as one of my two catchers in a mixed league. I’d have no problem at all calling his name out on draft day, but the chances of him ending up on any of my teams is small since there seems to be such a fervor over adding him in 2013.
By Ray Flowers