Royals’ Salvador Perez sets MLB record for homers by a catcher with 46th long ball of 2021

·2 min read

Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez has turned a jaw-dropping season at the plate into a historic one. The seven-time All-Star blasted his 46th homer on Monday to break Johnny Bench’s record for homers in a season by a player who primarily played catcher.

The record-setter was a no-doubter, landing deep in the left-field stands in Cleveland.

That earned him a shout-out from a certain Royals co-owner.

Bench, a Hall of Famer and the heart of Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine, hit 45 in 1970. He won the NL MVP Award that year at age 22, starting 130 games at catcher while playing 148 in total. 

Perez, 31, has been known for playing more than most modern catchers — sometimes to the detriment of his own production.

He entered this season, coming off of injury and the pandemic-shortened 2020, having played only 37 games since the end of 2018. He has moonlighted more at designated hitter in 2021, but his playing time has only grown more prodigious. He has missed a total of one (!) game. 

And surprisingly, the power surge that began in his abbreviated 2020 season has carried over in full force.

Royals rewarded for faith in Perez

Perez is now battling for the MLB home run crown with Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and MVP favorite Shohei Ohtani after entering 2021 with a career best of 27 homers.

The youngest member of the Royals core that reached back-to-back World Series in 2014 and 2015, winning the latter, Perez signed a four-year, $82 million contract extension with the rebuilding club in the spring that raised eyebrows. With Danny Duffy since traded to the Dodgers, he’s the only remaining stalwart, and at the time a catcher seemed like an odd candidate to keep around.

But like Yadier Molina down the highway in St. Louis, Perez is viewed as the heart of the clubhouse and a positive influence on an otherwise inexperienced team. As it turns out, he might have a second act in him as a terrifying power hitter.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 27: Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a grand slam to tie the game 5-5 against the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at T-Mobile Park on August 27, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 27: Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates with teammates in the dugout after hitting a grand slam to tie the game 5-5 against the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at T-Mobile Park on August 27, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
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