Avoid Free Swinging Salvador Perez

Oct 21, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) hits a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants in the 7th inning during game one of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt that Salvador Perez plays a valuable role for the Kansas City Royals as they attempt to win their first World Series since 1985.  He also provided solid fantasy value to his owners in 2014 with 17 home runs and a respectable .260 batting average.

However, it is very easy to spot that Salvador Perez swings at literally every pitch.  It does not matter if it is in the strike zone or not because he will swing almost regardless.  In fact, he may even be tempted to try and hit a pick-off move to first base.

Perez is expected to have a low walk rate and be a solid contact hitter.  His defensive abilities, especially his arm strength, have been well documented.  Perez is in the middle of a extremely team-friendly contract of five years, $7 million through 2016.  At only 24 years of age, there is no question that Salvador Perez is a very valuable asset and arguably even a franchise cornerstone.

Everything stated in the previous paragraph mentions the many benefits of Salvador Perez, but I think his fantasy value is a tad overrated.  His already abysmal walk rate dropped to 3.6% and his 14.0% strikeout rate was a career high.  A 14.0% K rate is still well above league average, which speaks to Perez’s abilities to make contact, but it is still an alarming trend.

There is no question that 2014 was Perez’s worst year at the plate as a Major Leaguer.  You can see that by checking out his decreasing slash line since 2011 and the crazy high percentage of O-Swing%, which is the percent of pitches that a player swings outside of the strike zone.  However, I do want to point out that 2013 and 2014 were the only full seasons of Perez’s promising young career.

Here are some of Perez’s decreasing statistics over the past few years:

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Despite this negativity, Salvador Perez hit 17 homers this season, which was good for eighth among catchers.  Perez also found himself seventh among catchers in both runs and RBI’s.  These counting stats are all very respectable, but his .692 OPS is very poor.

The real concern comes from his lack of plate discipline even with his high contact rate of 85.5% in 2014 and 87.0% for his career.  I do not know if his plate discipline will further erode, but I cannot be content with drafting a guy who will swing at absolutely anything.

Beyond having his worst offensive season in 2014, I think Salvador Perez could see his stock bumped up for two unnecessary reasons.  One, people may remember Perez’s significant role in the playoffs and have a very lasting impression of him that is overly positive.  The second reason is that Salvador Perez is regarded as an excellent defensive catcher.  We see Yadier Molina receive the same bump even though defense is irrelevant in fantasy baseball.

I am expecting Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals to be drafted within the first five catchers, but do not be tempted to draft him there, regardless of his October heroics.