KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Royals All-Star Salvador Perez’s best offensive season of his career reached a historic Benchmark. Perez, a seven-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, has put himself among the most exclusive company as far as power-hitting seasons for a catcher in Major League Baseball history.
Perez smashed his 45th home run of the season in the first inning of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.
That 428-foot blast, which landed in the left-center-field stands, matched Hall of Famer Johnny Bench for the most home runs in a single season by a primary catcher (having played at least 75% of their games as a catcher).
Bench, a 14-time All-Star and two-time MVP, set his mark of 45 homers in 1970 as a 22-year-old with the Cincinnati Reds.
In the official record count per the Elias Sports Bureau, Hall of Famer Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez holds the American League record for single-season home runs by a player while in the lineup as a catcher with 35 homers in 1999.
Bench hit 38 of his homers in 1970 while playing catcher.
This season, Perez has hit 15 home runs while in the lineup as the designated hitter — as was the case on Thursday — therefore 30 of his home runs count toward the official record for catchers.
Perez also tied Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB lead in home runs. Perez entered the day already leading the majors in RBIs, and the two-run smash increased his total to 112.
Los Angeles Angels star pitcher-designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is third in the majors with 44 home runs.
The Blue Jays have a day off on Thursday, while Ohtani did not homer in the Angels' 9-3 win against the White Sox.
Perez, 31, also moved into a tie with Mike Sweeney for second place on the Royals' career home run list with 197. The only player in franchise history with more home runs than Perez is Hall of Famer George Brett with 317.
Perez’s previous single-season high for homers had been 27, which he hit in 2017 and 2018. In 56 games since the All-Star break this season, he has now hit 24.
The Royals have 16 games remaining this season. Perez also now sits just three back of Jorge Soler’s single-season franchise record of 48 homers set in 2019.©2021 The Kansas City Star. Visit at kansascity.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.