Salvador Perez shows all the signs of being a Hall of Famer

Catchers give signs all the time, to pitchers on what pitch to throw next, to infielders and outfielders on where to play a hitter. Royals World Champion catcher Salvador Perez is no different. The Royals All Star has shown us other signs too. Signs that he could be a future Hall of Famer when he finishes his career.

At the end of July, Cooperstown welcomed Ivan Rodriguez into the Hall of Fame. He is the 15th catcher inducted and the second in two years.

In 2016, Mike Piazza got the sufficient number of votes. There have been four catchers with bronze plaques since 2000. The other two were Gary Carter, 2003, and Carlton Fisk, 2000.

Other notable catchers in the Hall include Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Roy Campanella, Bill Dickey, Mickey Cochrane and Ernie Lombardi. Cochrane’s .320 batting average ranks highest among the catchers selected, but he was not a slugger, 119 home runs. Dickey had a .313 average with 202 home runs. Piazza hit 352 home runs when he was behind the plate, one more than Fisk.

We bring this to your attention because Kansas City Royals fans could be watching a future Hall of Fame catcher in Salvador Perez.

Perez, 27, debuted in 2011 at the age of 21. At this time, he has a career. 274 batting average with 108 home runs and 406 RBIs.

He has been selected to five All-Star Games, starting the past four. He was won four Gold Gloves as the best defensive catcher in the American League and will likely add his fifth in 2017. He was the 2016 Silver Slugger, which is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position. He was the 2015 World Series MVP, hitting .364 in the five games against the New York Mets.

He is an iron man behind the plate, leading the American League in games caught in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He topped the American League with percentage caught stealing in 2016, 48.1, throwing out 37 would be thieves in 77 attempts. He led catchers last year with a .996 fielding percentage and has a career .994 fielding percentage.

There is seemingly little doubt the Royals will retire Perez’s No. 13 will be retires. Yet, if Perez can continue for the next decade what he has accomplished so far, he could be joining George Brett in the Hall of Fame.

“Hopefully, yeah,” Perez said. “Of course, I play for that. I play for to be one of the best. That’s my goal, sí. If I stay healthy, the rest I can do on the field and play hard and show everybody what I can do.”

Salvador Perez enters August with 21 home runs, one shy of his career best season high, and the third straight year he has at least 21 home runs. If he can get to 250-plus home runs, that would boost his Hall of Fame chances.

Hall of Fame catchers are more known for their power than their batting average. Bench had a career .267 batting average, Carter .262, Berra .285, Fisk .269 and Ray Schalk, who played from 1912 to 1929, .253.

Salvador Perez certainly won’t make the Hall of Fame with his on-base percentage. He seldom walks. He has only 110 base on balls in his first 3,057 plate-appearances. His season high for walks is 22.

“I don’t make adjustments,” Perez said and laughed. “I see the ball, I hit it. If I see it close, I’m swinging. You guys know me, I like to swing.”

Selected to five All-Star Games by age 27 will certainly elevate Perez’s Hall credentials, but he needs to pile onto that number. Rodriguez, who was 19 when he made his major league debut with the Texas Rangers, was a 14-time All-Star selection.

Longevity is the key for Salvador Perez. How long will Perez’s legs hold up from the toll on catching so many games in his 20s? Will he have to change positions as other catchers have, like Joe Mauer and Craig Biggio. Bench played first base and third base late in his career, while Berra spent time in the outfield. Perez could be a designated hitter, an option not open to Bench and Berra.

Salvador Perez cherishes playing in the midsummer classics.

“When you start the season every player wants to be in the All-Star Game with all the best major leaguers in the league,” Perez said. “Every All-Star game you’re going to see some different players, some guys making their first All-Star Game. It’s a pretty good moment. There is family time, too.”

In 2013, he was a reserve, but it was Mariano Rivera’s final year and All-Star game. Rivera was summoned to pitch the eighth inning. He came out of the bullpen to make his warmup throws Perez. As respect for Rivera, the all-time save leader, the other All-Stars remained in the dugout until Rivera finished his eight-pitch warm up. It was just Rivera and Perez on the field.

“That was pretty exciting,” Perez said.

In 2014, the game was at Target Field in Minneapolis. The starting American League shortstop was Derek Jeter, who was playing in his 14th and final All-Star Game.

“I won’t ever forget my first two All-Star Games. One was with Jeter and one with Mariano,” Perez said. “Both Hall of Famers. It’s a pretty exciting moment.”

In 2016, Perez hit a two-run homer as the American League won the All-Star Game 4-2 in San Diego.

Maybe in 2026, Perez will be playing in his final All-Star Game and with Cooperstown beckoning next.

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Article by Alan Eskew

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