Royals' Salvador Perez Breaks Johnny Bench's Single-Season HR Record for Catcher

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 20, 2021

Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez reacts after hitting an RBI single in the the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. the Royals defeated the Mariners 8-11. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley

Welcome to the history books, Salvador Perez.

The Kansas City Royals catcher launched his 46th home run of the season in the fifth inning of Monday's game against Cleveland. That total put him ahead of former Cincinnati Reds backstop Johnny Bench for the most home runs in a single season for a player who primarily plays catcher:

Kansas City Royals @Royals

With his 46th home run, Salvy has passed Johnny Bench for the most home runs in a season by a primary catcher!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TogetherRoyal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TogetherRoyal</a> <a href="https://t.co/reGW8DY8mO">pic.twitter.com/reGW8DY8mO</a>

Kansas City Royals @Royals

Going places no catcher has gone before.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TogetherRoyal?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TogetherRoyal</a> <a href="https://t.co/3qtQLUHP3Q">pic.twitter.com/3qtQLUHP3Q</a>

Bench congratulated the new record-holder on the achievement: 

Johnny Bench @JohnnyBench_5

Un hombre muy fuerte! A great man. Congrats <a href="https://twitter.com/SalvadorPerez15?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SalvadorPerez15</a>. Most home runs by a catcher in a season. Catching Royal-ty. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MLB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MLB</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/Royals?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Royals</a> <a href="https://t.co/2lv5A6fftf">https://t.co/2lv5A6fftf</a>

Perez has turned heads throughout the season with his power numbers, including when he hit 28 home runs in the opening round of the Home Run Derby. Unfortunately for the Royals star, he was matched up against eventual champion Pete Alonso and lost in that round.

The 31-year-old hit 27 homers in back-to-back years in 2017 and 2018 but missed the 2019 campaign because of an elbow injury. He also played just 37 games during the shortened 2020 campaign.

To his credit, he has bounced back from the missed time and impressed as the anchor of Kansas City's lineup. Entering play Monday, he had a .274/.314/.542 slash line with a league-leading 113 RBI.

The five-time Gold Glover, three-time Silver Slugger and 2015 World Series MVP also made his seventh career All-Star Game this year.

Bench set the previous record with 45 home runs during the 1970 season while helping lead the Reds to the World Series. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 389 home runs and led the league twice, including when he hit 40 long balls in 1972.

Perez won't have a chance to match Bench's two World Series titles this year considering the Royals are eliminated from playoff contention and in fourth place in the American League Central.