It was a move that simply made the most sense for the Kansas City Royals: with the team’s expectant big bats still looking for their form in 2013 and an offense that’s still hanging around 22nd in MLB with 237 runs, why not simply put the best hitter they currently have in the no. 3 spot?
All Salvador Perez has done in his young career is hit, after all.
If there were any fears that moving the catcher up to the most important run-production spot in the team’s lineup would backfire because it’d be too much, too early for, the 23-year-old has more than allayed them by now. If anything, the only questions that should remain is this: why didn’t the team do this sooner?
Though it’s only been six games that Perez has been in the no. 3 spot in the batting order, the backstop is already the best that the team has had. Including Monday’s key two-run triple against Doug Fister of the divisional rival Detroit Tigers in what turned out to be a 3-2 win, Perez is now riding a six-game hitting streak, registering at least one RBI in five of the six contests.
That run gives him a nifty .409/.480/.636 line over a small sample of just 22 at-bats, and trumps Alex Gordon‘s .956 OPS from the no. 3 spot himself.
This kind of success should have been expected, of course. Perez has yet to hit below .300 over a season in his young career, and his usual high 88.2 percent contact rate along with a strong 25.2 percent line drive rate this season suggests that even if his .362 BABIP comes back closer to his career levels at .332, the hits should continue to come for the Royals.
And of course, it’s no coincidence that the Royals’ offense is benefiting from this move as well, with the team having scored four or more runs in four of their last six games, putting their offense in a 16th-place tie in the league over the last seven days with 27 runs.
No, Perez isn’t going to provide the kind of power that Butler or Gordon can, but with a bat that is as sure to move the lineup along as any other on the Royals, he’s shown that he won’t need it to succeed in his new starring role.