Put away your Jonathan Lucroy trade scenarios, the Cleveland Indians do not need to be that desperate for a catcher. At the very least, if the Indians front office was not considering a trade for Lucroy or someone similar prior to Yan Gomes' trip to the disabled list, they certainly should not be now.
I have harped on this issue before, and even Jason has hopped on the #StartRoberto2016 campaign, but now it's time for money to meet mouth: Roberto Perez is going to be the Cleveland Indians starting catcher.
Of course, even I did not want it to come about like this. Despite Yan Gomes' poor showing at the plate this season, he is obviously a beloved figure in the clubhouse, and the last thing anyone wants is a player to lose time due to an injury. But with Roberto Perez coming off the disabled list just as Gomes go on it, the Indians already have their catcher situation figured out, without the need to go all-in on a trade.
In case you forgot in the year since Perez had full-time starting duties, here is what we can expect from the 27-year-old catcher.
He will be extremely patient at the plate
No matter what Perez does behind the dish or how many balls he hits out of the park, you will rarely see him have a bad at-bat at the plate.
We saw it a lot last season when Perez filled in for an injured Yan Gomes over the first couple months of the season. He finished 2016 with a 14.6 percent walk rate and an on-base percentage of .348 -- sixth-best on the Indians among 14 batters with at least 200 plate appearances.
Roberto's excellent eye at the plate is not a one-year fluke, either. His ability to draw walks and consistently get on base is all over his minor-league numbers. From the moment Perez hit Class-A ball onwards, his walk rate rarely dipped below 15 percent at any level. The only times it did were in Triple-A in 2013 (13.9%) and 2014 (13.9%). His walk rate peaked with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks in 2013 when he was drawing free bases in a whopping 25 percent of his at-bats.
Even this season, before diving to stop a run and breaking his thumb, Roberto walked in six of his 15 plate appearances. He also did not have a hit, which made his slash a neat little oddity of .000/.400/.000, but obviously would not stand forever.
Perez can be so patient, in fact, that it can become a detriment. Last season he swung at just 37 percent of the pitches he saw, including 59 percent of pitches in the zone. That's one big reason, despite only swinging and missing at 9.5 percent of the pitches he saw, he still had a 28.3 percent strikeout rate.
He is not a home run hitter, but he can run into one
The Indians already have one extremely patient hitter in the form of Carlos Santana. Unlike Santa, though, Perez probably will not hit 20 or 30 home runs in a season, although when he does make contact he makes hard contact.
In his 225 plate appearances last season, Perez hit 31.5 percent of his balls "Hard," according to FanGraphs, and 44.1 percent "Medium". To stick with the Santana comparison, the slugger on pace for 30 home runs this season has hit 36.5 percent of his balls "Hard" and 45.8 percent of them "Medium".
Don't expect Perez to be a big slugger, but don't be surprised to see him run into one here and there.
He is a surprisingly good baserunner
Maybe the big reason I am such a big believer in Perez is because seeing his excellent base running inspired me to make my first-ever post on Let's Go Tribe. The post was not very good, but Perez's intelligence on the base paths was. And it was far from the only time.
As I said in my choppy, borderline incoherent post last April, no one is going to mistake Perez for a base stealer, but he will rarely cost a run on the bases.
He will have tremendous defense behind the plate
Getting away from offense for a moment, anyone worried about a huge drop-off between Gomes' and Perez's defense really should not be. Perez played 538.1 innings behind the plate last season, and in that time he was worth four defensive runs saved. Gomez, over the last three seasons and 2454.1 innings, has been worth seven.
Perez also has a higher caught stealing percentage in his major-league career (40.9%) than Gomes (34.6%), although it should be noted that Perez's sample size is obviously much smaller.
The big test for Perez, defensively, will be how he handles the pitching staff. Every pitcher not named Trevor Bauer seems to love having Gomes behind the plate, and the starting rotation is having a historically good season. How much of that is actually due to Gomes we cannot really know for sure, but if his impact is as big as it looks, that may eventually start to show in the starting pitcher's performances. I would think, and hope, that a talented group of pitchers like this would not suddenly collapse with a different, equally talented, catcher behind the mound.
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I guess my point with all this is simple: Don't freak out. The Indians lost Gomes, but he has been really bad this season. It's unfortunate that he was injured, but not having his bat create a black hole every night could wind up helping the Indians.
Roberto Perez may not be a future Hall of Famer, but he is arguably the best backup catcher in the league, which looks like it could translate into a pretty damned good starter. The big question marks, as stated above, will be how he works with catchers and how well he keeps his strikeout rate down.