Salvador Perez has been the Kansas City Royals’ most-certain lock for the All-Star Game in recent years.
Perez on Sunday was named to the American League team for the sixth year in a row, with the game next Tuesday in Washington.
Perez deservedly has been recognized as one of the game’s top catchers for many years. But his selection to the team this year was based solely on past performance.
All-Star rules dictate that every team must have at least one representative. When your team has won an ego-sapping 25 games in 3 months, it’s difficult to sift through the rubble to find a worthy candidate.
Perez is having by far the worst season of his career. He is hitting just .213 and most of his 11 homers and 34 RBIs came in the first two months of the season. Since May 30, he has driven in only four runs and hasn’t homered since June 10. His on-base percentage, while never one of his strengths, is .255 — one of the worst marks in the majors.
Perez has always been someone who plays with great joy. But the physical beating he has taken over the years while catching more games than probably any other receiver in the game, coupled with this year’s disastrous season, has sapped him of his energy. He can still throw out runners with the best of them, but his frustration at the plate has caused over-anxiousness and more often than not he gets himself out by swinging at pitches well out of the strike zone.
Salvy is probably the most untouchable player on the team given that he’s the face of the franchise and good catchers are hard to find. He also has a team-friendly contract and has for years as the Royals have been the beneficiary of a bargain. Hopefully this can be chalked up to a year gone bad and not a sign that his career is careening toward the end.
Whit Merrifield was the Royals’ obvious choice. He has followed up last year’s out-of-nowhere season by hitting .303 with 5 homers, 29 RBIs and 16 stolen bases, terrific numbers considering the Royals move him all around the diamond. I have found it staggering that he’s being mentioned in trade talks because he’s been the team’s best player and at some point they have to keep some players to put a viable team on the field that fans can identify with.
Mike Moustakas also could have warranted consideration as his time with the Royals winds down. He could very well be dealt this week, certainly by July 31’s trade deadline. He’s batting a so-so .254, but on an offensively challenged team he has 17 homers and 56 RBIs in what is a tough hitter’s park.
I’m sure Perez will do just fine next Tuesday. He’ll probably catch an inning or two and enjoy the atmosphere. Hopefully next year he’ll be on the team again when he actually deserves it.