Sometimes I get slammed for being a moron. I said have faith in Ryan Braun in 2013. Look what happened. I said that there was no way that Mike Trout could repeat his 2012 effort (uh, wrong again). I also said this… “Salvador 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.”
So was my January report on Perez prescient or do I need to apologize for making another miserable mistake?
No delay, let’s just get right to it.
Perez his .292.
Perez hit 13 homers.
The Oracle is a genius. Thank you for reading.
OK, that’s not true, though I don’t score too poorly on IQ tests. But the two things I said were a lock with Perez, the two things that I was roundly smashed by my followers for, were totally accurate with Perez. How was I right while so many others were wrong as they expected Perez to be that .300-20 guy in 2013 after he hit .301 with 11 homers in only 289 at-bats in 2012?
Perez hit .331 and .301 his first two years in the big leagues. As I noted many times, as a rookie he had a .362 BABIP and 29.2 line drive rate. Neither one of those numbers is sustainable. In his second season his BABIP fell to .299, right on the big league average. His line drive rate was 24.2 percent, still a massive number and one only a handful of players in the game can repeat on a yearly basis. What did year three offer? How about a .311 BABIP, just four points below his career mark. A strong total but not necessarily one that means you have to be a .300 hitter. What really killed Perez and his shot at hitting .300 in 2013, and let’s not overlook the fact that he still hit a strong .292, was that his line drive rate fell to 20.5 percent, just slightly over the big league average instead of being in the stratosphere like it was the first couple of seasons of his career. When you toss in his 1.42 GB/FB ratio, just a tick off his 1.41 career mark, you have a batter who failed to hit .300 because he just didn’t hit as many line drives as the year before and because he just doesn’t know how to take a pitch.
Flat out, it’s embarrassing that a big league hitter has 526 plate appearances an only walks 21 times. You just can’t remain consistent, and you make it very difficult on yourself, when you are literally swinging at anything that is in the air. He also saw his batting average dip because his contact rate on pitches he swung at that were out of the strike zone went from 88.3 percent in year two down to 80.1 percent in 2013. Really not that complicated actually. Perez’s approach at the plate stinks. When he’s locked in he’s fine. When he isn’t? Well he’s still really good, just not great. There’s also one other outcome of never taking a walk — you don’t score runs. In 496 at-bats Perez, who hit .292 on the year, scored a total of 48 runs. Hell, Darwin Barney (49 runs in 501 at-bats) and Brandon Crawford (52 runs in 499 at-bats) beat that run total. Might have something to do with Perez and his league average .323 OBP mark.
While I could have easily been wrong about Perez hitting .300, he was just four hits away from that mark (four hits over 496 at-bats), the inability to go deep 20 times should have been obvious to everyone.
As I noted, prior to the start of the 2013 season…
* Perez has only 14 homers in 437 career big league at bats.
* Perez has only 20 homers in 1,278 minor league at-bats.
* 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.
His total of 13 big flies in 496 at-bats was to be expected. As I mentioned above his GB/FB ratio in ’13 was nearly identical to his career mark so it’s no surprise to see his fly ball rate up one percent to 32.9 percent. That’s a small number. It’s also not a surprise that his 13.1 HR/F ratio from 2012 dipped back down to a league average 9.0 percent in 2013. Predictable.
So does this all mean that Perez won’t hit .300 in 2014? Certainly not. A couple more hits, a wee bit more patience, and he could just as easily hit .312 as .282 in the coming campaign. Does all of this mean that he won’t hit 20 homers in 2014? The answer to that question is likely yes again (just like it was last year). That doesn’t mean that Perez isn’t a starting fantasy catcher in 2014. He is. Don’t overlook his total of 79 RBIs which was seven more than Buster Posey and one less than Yadier Molina. Perez can hit, he will hit, and will be very productive in 2014. He just isn’t likely to turn into Buster Posey.
By Ray Flowers