by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Obviously it was nice to see Salvador Perez swat a career high 22 HR in 2016, his second straight season with 20+ long balls. However he hit just .247 in the process, so it’s fair to wonder if the power surge has come at a price. Is it even possible for him to hit for both power and average? First let’s look at the underlying numbers:
The line drive rate was a career worst, as it would appear like he was trying to hit for more power. His fly ball rate rose from 37.1% in 2015 to 47.1% last season. In fact he didn’t have a single month below 44.3%, and that mark he posted in September. It’s certainly hard to argue that it wasn’t a conscious decision.
He’s always produced a lot of popups (15.5% last season), and the loss of line drives certainly hurts a player with little speed. He’s not going to beat out many balls and he’s not likely going to be a 35+ HR hitter, so fewer line drives is going to mean fewer hits overall.
Then you have the plate discipline, which has never been very good. However it was even worse last season and helped lead to a jump in strikeouts (14.7% for his career):
He’s always been a player to chase pitches (leading to few walks), but he generally made contact (9.0% SwStr% in 2015). The jump is consistent with a player who was looking to hit for more power, as is the fact that he was over anxious and missing against pitches other than “hard” stuff (Whiff%):
So what’s the bottom line? It’s very possible that we’ve seen a transformation of Perez, where he sells out for power and in turn posts a fairly poor batting average. There’s still value in that, but unless he continues to develop his power stroke his upside is going to be capped.
In two-catcher formats he will absolutely be worth owning, but in one-catcher leagues it’s not as certain. A catcher who hits .240 with 20 HR and no speed isn’t a rare commodity, and at the end of the day his price tag will probably make selecting him a mistake.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball