Thursday, September 29, 2011


He had an unexpectedly awesome rookie season. Just a year prior he was a 20 year old catcher hitting .287/.322/.476 in high A and at the time his rookie season looked a good two or three years away. A hot start to the next season, however, accelerated his timeline and late in the summer he found himself having his way with big league pitching, hitting a healthy .345/.357/.490 in 154 plate appearances. But enough about Pablo Sandoval, let's talk about Salvador Perez.

It's hard not to notice the similarities of the two players. Last year for high A Wilmington Perez hit .290/.322/.411 as a 20 year old. He split time between NW Arkansas and Omaha this season before being promoted to Kansas City where he would finish an impressive rookie campaign with a .331/.361/.473 triple slash line.

Here is the direct comparison between the two rookie seasons.
Sandoval 154 10 1 3 24 4 14 .345 .357 .490 118 0.9
Perez 158 8 2 3 21 7 20 .331 .361 .473 129 1.1

Positional comparisons end at the big league level since Sandoval was moved off catcher almost immediately but offensively they were pretty similar. Sandoval has gone on to become a force at the plate putting up a 130 OPS+ since his rookie season. Now I can't really see Perez matching that but I can see him matching someone else who came out hitting out of the gate.

Since 1970 nine players in their first season have hit .330 or better in 150+ plate appearances. It's an odd mix of Hall of Famers, flash in the pans and solid, if not spectacular, contributors.

Rk Player Year BA PA
1 Rennie Stennett 1971 .353 165
2 Luis Salazar 1980 .337 183
3 Wade Boggs 1982 .349 381
4 Frank Thomas 1990 .330 240
5 Bret Barberie 1991 .353 162
6 Bill Mueller 1996 .330 228
7 Ichiro Suzuki 2001 .350 738
8 Pablo Sandoval 2008 .345 154
9 Salvador Perez 2011 .331 158
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used

I don't think he'll put up numbers like Boggs, Thomas, Suzuki and Sandoval going forward but I don't think he'll tank like Stennett, Salazar and Barberie either. That leaves us with Mueller who finished his career with a .291 average and 109 OPS+, numbers attainable by Perez though truthfully I don't think his batting average will be that high.

Realistically Perez will earn his keep with his glove and arm. He's been so good on offense that I almost forgot that he picked two runners off base in his major league (side note - it happened in the game that the Rays scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win, sorry Boston). It seems likely that Perez will never hit .330 over the course of a full season but his approach at the plate was impressive enough that I believe he will flirt with .300 a few times. I also expect that he'll have a few seasons where he hits .250 with an on-base percentage south of .300, I guess basically I expect him to be Mike Aviles.

He's just 21 and has only 158 career plate appearances so I realize I'm getting way ahead of myself here but the season's over and everyone knows that the offseason is the domain of speculations and projections.


  1. I disagree with the Aviles expectation due to Perez's age and physical size. He has quite a bit of time, and a giant frame, to grow into a much more powerful hitter than Aviles.

    When a prospect improves rapidly at such a young age, it's difficult to project much of anything. He's not a .330 hitter--we know that much. I'm not sure what we know beyond that, however. He's just so young! It will be exciting to see him progress. He'll struggle as all youngsters do, but I think he could have a very good career along the lines of Charles Johnson or Sandy Alomar Jr.

  2. Charles, I can deal with.
    Sandy, I hope for much better.

    More than anything, I hope for better health from him than those two.

  3. You're right, Antonio. Alomar Jr.'s reputation outpaced his production by quite a bit. 20 seasons, 13.2 career rWAR, & 6 All-Star games--that's a rare feat. Johnson only made 2 AS teams, but he almost doubled Alomar's career production (22 rWAR) in only 12 seasons.