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“That’s Amore!” The Reason Sal Perez Is Better Than We Think At The Dish

Offensive productivity from the catcher position. If you’re in a 16-team league, more than likely 16 catchers will not produce the way you want them to. After the top-10 the rest are a toss up. Obviously, Buster Posey is the number one guy, and has been since his call-up in 2009. In early march, Salvador Perez an injury after a home plate collision. Throughout baseball, and the fantasy realm, a red flag was raised and Perez fell down the draft boards. The MRI showed a knee sprain, and this was the best possible outcome. He avoided a serious injury. Perez’ ADP was a bit of a head scratcher. ESPN’s ADP was 177 (Position Rank: 3), Yahoo ADP 159 (Position Rank: 9), and Fantrax ADP 189.93 (Position Rank: 11). Undoubtedly, ESPN had the most fair position ranking for Sal Perez. Through six games, Perez has .291 with four home runs (four-straight games with a HR) and four RBI. This is the production you should have expected for a player with a career slash line of .272/.302/.436. When accumulating 500+ at-bats he’s hit .264/21 HR/70 RBI per season. Those are solid offensive numbers from the catcher position. This week I will be breaking down Sal Perez in what makes him a solid fantasy option and why you shouldn’t have let him slide down the draft board.

I’ll be the first to admit that I always wait on a catcher to draft. It’s not that I don’t want to draft a catcher, but I try to fill other slots before selecting a catcher. This has hindered my production, at the catcher position, and I’ve been stuck with the likes of John Buck, Stephen Vogt, and Geronimo Gil many moons ago. While Buck and Vogt brought solid production, both fizzled off after the first few months of the season. Gil was a reach, and didn’t last more than a few weeks. Nowadays, I try to get solid production from the catcher position. This past draft season I was able to snag Perez in the middle rounds, and he’s produced greatly through the first week of the season. He’s on pace to surpass his career-high of 22 home runs that he set in 2016. What makes the 26-year old backstop a solid option?

In 2016, eight catchers hits 20, or more, home runs. Evan Gattis lead the way with 32, and Sal Perez was tied Wilson Ramos for fourth with 22 long balls. He ended 2016 in seventh with 64 RBI. Only Jonath Lucroy (81), Buster Posey (80), and Wilson Ramos (80) reached the 80+ plateau. There’s no question Posey and Lucroy were the first two catcher selected, in fantasy drafts, but Perez was a value after those two were off the board. Plate discipline is a metric I’ve given close attention to over the past two seasons. It consists of five measurements: O-Swing% (Outside the Zone Swing Percentage: swings at pitches outside the zone/pitches outside the zone), Z-Swing% (Inside the Zone Swing Percentage: swings at pitches inside the zone/pitches inside the zone), Swing% (swing/pitches), O-Contact% (Outside the Zone Contact Percentage: number of pitches where contact is made on pitches outside the zone/swings at pitches outside the zone, and Z-Contact% (Inside the Zone Contact Percentage: number of pitches where contact is made on pitches inside the zone/swings on pitches inside the zone).

If we look at the graph to the right, we can see the top-10 fantasy catchers and their plate discipline broken down by: O-Swing%, Z-Swing%, Swing%, O-Contact%, and Z-Contact%. Of the top-10 Sal Perez had the highest O-Swing%, and had the seventh-highest O-Contact%. What does this tell us? Perez swings at the highest number of pitches outside the zone, and doesn’t usually make the best contact with the zones. On the other hand Buster Posey has the fourth-least swings at pitches outside the zone, but makes the second-best contact percentage with those swings. There’s no questioning Bust Posey is the most talented hitter out of the top-ten fantasy catchers. It’s safe to conclude that Sal Perez isn’t the best hitter while swinging at pitches outside the zone. Of the group. Yadier Molina has the highest O-Contact% (81.4%) and is arguably the best hitting catcher handling “bad pitches.” What about pitches inside the zone? If we take a look at more desirable pitches, Salvador Perez has the third-highest Z-Swing% (70.1%), and second-best Z-Contact% (90.4%) trailing only Buster Posey (91.5%). This tells us that Sal Perez is one of deadliest hitting catchers at pitches that are in the zone. While he has the highest Swing% (55.2%) of the top-10 fantasy catchers, he has a great eye at the plate. He may be the most aggressive hitting catcher, but his numbers always trend toward the positive production statistics.

While plate discipline is one of the most pertinent metrics to pay attention to for hitters, there is another metric that I find just as important. While measuring a hitters success, I pay attention to batted ball percentages. Batted ball percentage is measured by three categories: soft percentage (Soft%), medium percentage (Medium%), and hard percentage (Hard%). Sticking with the top-10 fantasy catchers, the chart at the right breaks down their batted ball percentages. Of the catchers listed, Sal Perez had the highest Soft%. This can be correlated to the fact he had the lowest OPS of the catchers, but don’t let that take away the fact that lead MLB with 52 extra-base hits from the catcher position beating out Jonathan Lucroy and Evan Gattis by one. Perez sits at ninth in Med% and sixth in Hard%. His batted ball percentage may not be as high as the others’, but there’s no questioning he’s one of the more well-rounded hitting catchers in MLB. Perez finished tenth in pitches seen (1875), eighth in pitches per plate appearance (3.43), sixth in total bases (225), eight in runs created (61.9), and the fifth-most doubles (28) of all catchers. After examining plate discipline and batted ball percentage amongst the top-10 2016 fantasy catchers it’s easy to see why Sal Perez isn’t one of the top-10, but why he’s one of the best values in terms of his ADP. If you didn’t draft, you’re probably kicking yourself as you passed on him a number of times. If you were one of the lucky owners that drafted Perez, I commend you! Perez is off to a hot start, and at 26-years old, he’s primed to break his career-best in extra-base hits, home runs, and RBI. I want to end by throwing out this interesting split. Against lefties, Perez slashed .247/.289/.473 with 11 HR and 18 RBI. Against righties, he slashed .247/.287/.423 with 11 HR and 46 RBI.

 

Last Week’s Article: Trout & Bryant 2016: Plate Discipline

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 9th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #82 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guests this week are Craig Mish, and Professor Mark Rush. Mark is the Chief Editor for MLFS, a writer, and occasional guest on our shows. Craig Mish is the host of a fantasy baseball show on Sirius Satelitte Radio along with Jim Bowden from 9-11am EST Monday through Friday. Craig is also the host for a show on Sirius every Sunday morning with FSWA Hall of Famer Lenny Melnick from 7-10am EST.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 16th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guests this week are Lenny Melnick and Kyle Klinker. Kyle is an MLFB champion and a veteran of MLFS leagues. Lenny is an FSWA Hall of Famer, the co-host of the Sunday morning fantasy sports show from 7-10am EST with Craig Mish on Sirius, and the owner of lennymelnickfantasysports.com. Check his shows out on his site every morning through out the week at 9am EST.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

I’m a former collegiate and semi-pro baseball player. Chicago sports are the love of my life [Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls] as well as European football. I promise Cubs fans that if Theo can’t bring a World Series, I will knock down all doors until I work my way up to GM and bring home a World Series to the Northside of Chicago!

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@CraigMish No convincing needed. It was the set up for, in my opinion, the most lopsided trade of all time. I still can't believe MLB didn't block that deal. Smh

About 5 hours ago from Corey Roberts's Twitter via Twitter for Android

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