By now, if the American League All Star voting is to be believed, we generally understand that Salvador Perez is good catcher. Indeed, Perez, of all players, leads the entire American League in voting for the starting honors. This isn't just Royals fans stuffing the ballot box, though of course there's a good deal of that. America is turning up to vote for him going away over Stephen Vogt of the Oakland A's and Russell Martin of the Toronto Blue Jays.
It's ludicrous. After all, what player could use four days off more than Salvador Perez?
You will not be shocked to learn (especially in light of my clever joke above) that, yet again, Salvador Perez is doing the lion's share of the catching in for the Kansas City Royals. Perez leads all American League receivers in starts, with 44 in his club's first 48 games. He has caught in each of the Royals' last 13 games. Yet again, he is on pace to catch at least 140 games.
History isn't kind to this kind of catcher abuse
It's not unprecedented, of course. Since 1947, 20 different catchers have played at least 140 games behind the dish in consecutive seasons, and it is, of course, a list populated with the greatest catchers ever to play the game (and Jim Hegan, for some reason). And, of course, given that we're talking about some of the greatest catchers of all time (looking at you, Johnny Bench), some of these guys went on to have incredible seasons even after they were almost run into the ground.
Royals Bitten by injuries
Some of them, however, fell apart. Indeed, Darren Daulton, Jody Davis, Randy Hundley, Earl Battey, Del Crandall, and Terry Kennedy, were all essentially done with catching a year later. Butch Wynegar never developed into the perennial all-star he was predicted to be.
Even Bob Boone, the patron saint of catching a ton of games, was a broken down wreck in the seasons following his biggest workloads. It's a simple fact that catching places an incredible strain on the body of catchers that can translate into some awful performances.
Wear and tear is probably hurting Salvy's value
This, then, brings us to Perez. When he debuted at 21, Perez seemed like he would be a force behind the plate for a decade. Defensively, he was fantastic. On offense, his batting average-driven, line-drive power profile translated to .301/.331/.451 in his first three seasons and made him incredibly useful on the offensive end. As a 23 year old, under a normal workload, he was an all star for the first time and worth around four wins.
Since then, he has started 187 of the Royals' 210 games (89 percent) and has seen his performance drop off precipitously. Thankfully, Perez's defense remains as strong as it ever was. He's still excellent at blocking pitches and at throwing out baserunners, but offensively, he has become a different player. In 781 plate appearances, his batting line has fallen to .264/.289/.411. After a hot start to 2015, he hit just .235/.244/.388 with one walk for May while starting 23 of 26 games behind the plate. He's essentially stopped walking, and his strikeouts have ticked up. He's too talented to fall completely off the table at this point, but he is also no longer an asset with the bat.
If the backup is a problem, Kansas City, why not fix it?
Look, I get that the Royals and their fans would rather see Perez out there than Drew Butera. As a Twins fan, trust me, I have seen enough of Drew Butera to know what that's like. But Butera isn't the problem here. The Royals should be able to pick up a halfway decent backup catcher at this point who can outplay Drew Butera.
The main issue is that Salvador Perez needs some time off. Perez has proven that he can play better when he's sitting a day or two per week, and that he's worth even more to his team overall when he is well rested. And the Royals are going to need Perez at his best, given that the Tigers are still a strong club in the AL Central and the Twins seem to have some fight in them again.
I mean, the least you can do, voters, is not make him strap on the tools of ignorance again over what might be his only chance to rest of the summer.