Royals' superstar Salvador Perez might be early candidate for American League MVP

Kansas City Royals captain and All-Star catcher Salvador Perez is off to a red-hot start and he could be a legitimate candidate for the AL MVP.
Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals
Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

In 2021, The Kansas City Royals superstar Salvador Perez led the majors in home runs with 48 while setting an all-time record for round-trippers for a catcher. He also led the majors in RBI with 121. Yet, he finished seventh in the MVP voting. To be fair, in that season Shohei Ohtani had a brilliant season both in hitting and pitching. Vlad Guerrero Jr. matched Salvy's home run total and had a tremendous 1.002 OPS.

Regardless, there is no way Perez should have finished any lower than third. No, the Royals were not good that season, but Perez was fantastic and he deserved a better result.

Royals captain Salvador Perez is making a strong case for AL MVP

In the small sample size of the 2024 season thus far, Perez leads the AL in RBI with 27, and in slugging percentage at .591. He is second in batting average at .355, and OPS at 1.009. He has seven home runs, which ties him for sixth. He's tied for fifth in WAR with 1.8. To top it all off, Perez has reached base now in 21 straight contests.

One of the knocks against Perez over the years was his work behind the plate, outside of his ability to throw out base stealers. It is obvious watching him on a daily basis that he has improved his framing considerably, and he has scored a three so far in the Defensive Runs Saved category.

He's played in 19 games behind the plate and eight at first base, where is also showing good improvement. Last year in 23 games at first, he scored a -.06 in Ultimate Zone Rating, and he is still set at zero so far this season.

Perez is an eight-game All-Star, has won five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, and his seventh place finish in the 2021 MVP voting was his highest finish.

At nearly 34 years, it is unusual to see someone improve their strikeout ratio so drastically this late in a career. Through 31 games, Perez is whiffing only 10.7 percent of the times. To put that in perspective, he's not been under 23 percent since 2018. He's NEVER had a walk rate over 4.4 percent, and that was his rookie campaign, clear back in 2011. This season, he's walked 8.2 percent, a massive improvement.

He is the only player still active in the major leagues from the Kansas City Royals 2015 World Championship. He's missed a full year due to Tommy John surgery, but he's been remarkably durable otherwise. He is an incredible team leader, as evidenced by his being named team captain prior to last season.

Bobby Witt Jr. is fantastic, but so far in 2024, Salvador Perez has been the MLV, not only for the Royals but maybe for the American League. The season is still in its early stages, but if Perez can continue with his incredible play, he has to be considered a strong candidate for the resurgent Royals.