KC Royals’ Sal Perez left out of finalists for AL MVP award

Salvador Perez’s historically productive season, including surpassing a catcher benchmark set more than 50 years ago, wasn’t enough to land him among the finalists for the American League MVP as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

The Kansas City Royals’ All-Star catcher came up short of the top three vote recipients. The AL finalists announced on Monday night were Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Los Angeles Angels pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani and Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien.

The winner will be announced on Thursday, Nov. 18. Ohtani has been the presumptive favorite for since the middle of the MLB season.

Perez led the majors in RBIs (121) and tied for the lead in home runs (48) along with Guerrero. Perez became the sixth player in the last 30 years to lead the majors in both homers and RBIs.

Of his 48 homers, 18 gave the Royals a lead. That total matched St. Louis’ Nolan Arenado for the most in the majors.

Perez also led the majors with 34 multi-RBI games, and he tied for third in the majors with 29 go-ahead RBIs.

Defensively, Perez led all catchers with 12 double plays, threw out at MLB-best 44% (18 of 41) of runners attempting stolen bases, led all AL catchers with a .998 fielding percentage and four pickoffs.

Perez is a finalist for the AL Silver Slugger award set to be announced later this week.

This offseason, he has already won the Luis Aparicio Award as the top Venezuelan player in Major League Baseball this season. A panel of MLB executives recognized him as the top catcher in the majors by selecting him to the Sporting News All-Star Team.

He was also a finalist for the AL catcher Gold Glove award won by Oakland’s Sean Murphy.

Perez tied the Royals single-season home run record set by Jorge Soler in 2019. Perez’s 48 homers were the most in a season for a primary catcher (at least 75% of games played at catcher) in major-league history.

He surpassed the previous record of 45 set by Hall of Famer Johnny Bench in 1970. By leading the majors in both home runs and RBIs, Perez became just the second primary catcher to lead in both, the other having been Bench in 1970 and 1972.

Perez batted .273, and his .859 OPS was a career high for a full-length season, as was his .544 slugging percentage (10th-best in MLB). He registered an OPS+ of 126.

He played a career-high 161 games, including an MLB-best 120 starts at catcher, and matched Hall of Famer Ted Simmons’ mark set in 1973 for the most games by a primary catcher in a single season.

This summer, Perez earned his seventh MLB All-Star Game selection and was voted the starter for the AL for the sixth time in his career. He caught Ohtani, the AL’s starting pitcher.

The AL’s final three

Members of the BBWAA vote for the AL and NL MVP awards as well as the Cy Young, Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year and the Manager of the Year awards.

Two writers from each MLB city vote for each award. Writers from NL cities vote for NL awards, and writers from AL cities vote for AL awards, making 30 voters for each award.

Ohtani, the first two-way player of significant note since Babe Ruth nearly 100 years ago, slashed .257/.372/.592 with a 158 OPS+ along with 46 homers, 26 doubles, eight triples, 100 RBIs, 103 runs, 96 walks and 26 stolen bases in 155 games. As a pitcher, Ohtani went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings in 23 starts.

Guerrero, the son of the Hall of Fame player by the same name, hit .311 with 48 home runs, 111 RBIs and a 1.002 OPS. He led the AL in OPS+ (169), tied Perez for the major-league lead in home runs. Guerrero also led the majors in runs scored (123) and total bases (363), and he led the AL in on-base percentage (.401) and slugging (.601).

Semien, who won the AL second base Gold Glove on Sunday night, batted .265 average with an .873 OPS, 45 home runs and 102 RBIs. He set a record for homers in a season for a second baseman. He played all 162 games.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.

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