2020 season age: 31 – Throws: Right – Bats: Right- Contract: – $2.25 million
2019 in review: Finally given a chance at the full time catching role, Perez shined defensively but also had a breakout performance at the plate. He hit 24 homers with a .774 OPS and a 98 wRC+. He cut down 20 of 49 base runners and didn’t have a single passed ball all year despite catching 993 innings.
Beyond the stats: Baseball Prospectus had Perez at 25.7 Fielding Runs Above Average, which accounts for his blocking, runners caught stealing and framing. He was at 15.5 in framing runs, 8.8 blocking runs, and 1.5 throwing runs. He was second in the MLB in FRAA behind San Diego’s Austin Hedges. Offensively, his xWOBA of .323 was a good reflection of his outcomes, with a .326 xWOBA.
Offensive impact: Perez had always had good walk rates and he came in at 10% around his career average. His strikeout rate of 28.5% was around his average for his career as well. In fact, his hard hit rate, ground ball and fly ball rates and other batted ball data were consistent with his career averages. Which is incredible given his lack of sample sizes in most other seasons. Perez proved that even in small sample sizes, his underlying skills and data would be valuable and productive over a full season. He was 10th among all catchers with at least 400 plate appearances in 2019 with his 98 wRC+.
Defensive impact: Only 49 runners attempted to steal on Perez last year. The only catcher who faced less steal attempts last year in over 900 innings caught was his mentor, Yadier Molina, with 30. He was also the only one of them with zero passed balls as well. If catcher ERA is your thing, the Indians had a 3.58 ERA with him behind the plate.
2020 role: Despite offseason ankle surgery, Perez will have been long ready to start the season as the Indians full time catcher once again, once the season is safe to start. He’s the leader of their pitching staff, defensive stalwart and will provide power and patience near the bottom of the lineup again.
Fantasy impact: This is purely a personal preference, but unless you’re in a two catcher league, I think paying for top tier catching is a waste of prime picks and draft money. I like to look for value in catchers later in drafts and for less money that have some upside but also won’t drag your rate stats down. Perez should be one of those guys. Catchers like JT Realmuto and Gary Sanchez are great hitting catchers, but their bats would be much cheaper in fantasy (and real life) terms if they played other positions. I always spend my draft capital on bats that are closer to the top of their position elsewhere and snag someone like Perez who has power and a solid OBP. Devalue him a little more in batting average leagues because there’s a legitimate chance he will hit between .220 and .240.