Perez repeats as All-MLB First Team catcher

November 24th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- was voted the best catcher in baseball with his selection to the All-MLB First Team on Tuesday night, Major League Baseball announced on MLB Network.

Perez beat out San Francisco’s Buster Posey for a spot on the All-MLB First Team, a comprehensive honor that covers the full breadth of a big league season with no distinction between leagues, complementing the All-Star Game selections that are awarded just past the season’s halfway point. Fifty percent of the vote came from fans, with the other 50 percent coming from a panel of experts.

Perez was the American League’s starting catcher in the All-Star Game, and this All-MLB honor -- Perez’s second in as many years -- is another nod to his historic season at the plate. The 31-year-old appeared in a career-high 161 games in 2021, won his fourth Silver Slugger as the best offensive player at his position and finished seventh in American League MVP voting.

Perez hit a career-high 48 home runs in 2021, tying the Royals’ single-season record set by Jorge Soler in 2019 and breaking Johnny Bench’s 1970 record for most home runs by a primary catcher (75 percent of games caught).

Perez hit 33 home runs as a catcher -- the other 15 came as the designated hitter -- which fell just two shy of Iván Rodríguez’s American League record of 35 home runs as a catcher, set in 1999, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Perez’s 48 home runs were 21 more than his previous career high of 27, which he hit in 2017 and ’18, and they tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League home run lead. Perez also led baseball with 121 RBIs, becoming the second Royal to lead the Majors in RBIs following Hal McRae’s 133 in 1982. Perez hit .273 with an .859 OPS as the Royals’ most dangerous hitter, and his .544 slugging percentage was 10th best in baseball. He hit 21 home runs before the All-Star break and led the Majors after the break with 27 home runs in 72 games -- the most second-half home runs in a single season by a Royal, surpassing Soler’s 25 post-break homers in 2019.

In a year when he became the first Royal to earn at least a share of the Majors’ lead in homers and RBIs, Perez also led the big leagues in catcher assists (61) and led the AL in fielding percentage (.998) among qualifying catchers. He was a Gold Glove finalist, an award he has won six times, after appearing in a Major League-best 120 starts at catcher. Perez had a caught-stealing rate of 44 percent, marking the best rate in the Majors among qualifying catchers.

The Royals had two other All-MLB team finalists with Perez: Second baseman Whit Merrifield and shortstop Nicky Lopez.