Fantasy Baseball 2012 Projection: Salvador Perez a Deep Sleeper in All Formats

Eric StashinSenior Writer IFebruary 27, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals hits a RBI single in the fourth inning during a game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 20, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

For those who have been reading Rotoprofessor since the end of the 2011 season, my feelings regarding Salvador Perez are not a secret.  The Royals clearly think highly of him as well, as Bob Dutton reported via Twitter that they signed their young catcher to a five-year, $7 million contract (which could max out at $26.75 million with incentives and three options). 

I recommended Perez to fantasy owners at the end of ‘11 and I would absolutely recommend him now.  Is he a lock to produce huge numbers?  Of course not, but he certainly gave a good first impression in 2011:

148 At-Bats
.331 Batting Average (49 Hits)
3 Home Runs
21 RBI
20 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.361 On Base Percentage
.473 Slugging Percentage
.362 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Is he going to be able to hit .331 once again?  It’s not likely, considering his significantly inflated BABIP.  Considering the wear and tear that catchers are forced to endure, to expect him to be able to replicate that type of number would be a major mistake.  However, he makes consistent contact (12.7 percent strikeout rate in the Majors) and was a .285 hitter in the minor leagues.  Assuming he can add a little bit more power (which we will talk about momentarily) there is the potential that he can be a consistent .300 hitter.

At the least, you would think that he should be able to hit .280, with the potential for more.  Last season there were 19 catchers with at least 400 plate appearances.  Only six hit at least .280 and three hit at least .290 (Mike Napoli, who hit .320, was the only one to hit above .305).  There is a chance that Perez can give you a significant advantage over the field.

As for the power, to this point in his career he hasn’t shown much (20 home runs in 1,228 minor league at-bats).  However, at 6’3” and 230 lbs, would it really be a surprise to see him add power as he gains strength and experience (he won’t turn 22 until May)?  I’m not about to suggest that he is suddenly going to develop into a 25-plus home run hitter, but 10 to 15 could be realistic as soon as this season. 

The truth is that it could get even better than that, though 2012 probably isn’t the year that he gets there.

The other advantage Perez should have is that he is likely going to play almost every day behind the plate.  The Royals have shown that they are committed to him, and that is going to give him a chance to pad his counting stats.

Is he going to score a ton of runs?  No, because he’s as slow as molasses and will hit towards the bottom of the Royals' lineup (seventh or eighth, most likely).  However, if he matched the pace he set in 2011 he would score 80 runs.  I wouldn’t anticipate that, but let’s just say in a full season he can reach at least 65.

There were only four catchers with at least 400 plate appearances that scored at least 70 runs in 2011.  In 2010 there was just one.  If he’s going to play regularly, it’s a huge advantage that he could provide for fantasy owners.

A baseline expectation for Perez would likely be .280 with 10 HR, 55 RBI and 55 R, and that could be low, as you can see from my 2012 projection:

.298 (146-490), 14 HR, 65 RBI, 60 R, 0 SB, .317 BABIP, .332 OBP, .439 SLG

The fact is that he is still learning and developing, but he showed in his cup of coffee that he can contribute to a fantasy roster.

Considering where you can get him (248.33 ADP according to Mock Draft Central) and the risk involved in selecting a catcher early, he is well worth targeting in all formats.   

Make sure to check out our 2012 projections: