The countdown: Ranking Salvador Perez's 2021 home runs, part 2
The celebration of Salvy Perez's power barrage continues with home runs ranked 40 through 36.
As the countdown continues, a reminder that I’ll be rolling these out in smaller bites. Originally, I intended to do 10 at a time. Makes sense, right? But it seems that Substack cuts off entries that extend over a certain limit, and I was up against it on the opening post that featured home runs number 48 through 41. So instead of sweating the content, I’ll do five at a time so I can make sure to get everything in for each entry.
As always, thanks for your continued reading and support. And if you have a Royals fan in your life trying to navigate a lockout and the general malaise of winter, won’t you point them in this direction? Who doesn’t love a cornucopia of Salvador Perez home runs?
Today, we officially enter the Top 40.
#40 — 6/18/21 vs Boston Red Sox
This is just brute strength, isn’t it?
To go with a pitch on the outer edge of the plate (a fastball at 93 mph) and just send it into the stratosphere with enough carry to make it into the Royals’ bullpen is just something we don’t see all that often at Kauffman Stadium. But Perez did it on the regular in 2021.
We are nine dingers into the countdown and four have flown over the right field fence. I don’t think it’s a spoiler alert to say Perez won’t keep that pace over the course of the 48 home runs we are going to review. Still, it has to be noted that Perez has seen a slight change in his power-hitting profile since his return from Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2019.
Prior to 2020, Perez hit 141 home runs. Of those, 14 were classified by Baseball Savant as going to the opposite field—roughly 10 percent.
In 2021, Perez went oppo seven times, or roughly 15 percent.
In fact, here’s another one…
#39 — 6/3/21 vs Minnesota Twins (2)
As I said, doesn’t this look familiar?
You might be forgiven to think this one was already presented on the list. Another opposite field home run…Off J.A. Happ…With a skyscraper-esque launch angle…Against the Twins… I mean, the location and speed of the pitch is a complete carbon copy of the dinger presented immediately above.
Yet this is an entirely different home run.
This one ranks a little higher on the list because was a tiebreaking home run in a see-saw affair against those Twins. It was also—as noted in the header—Perez’s second home run of the game at that point. More impressively, it was his fourth dinger in a span of six plate appearances. Power hitters are streaky beasts. Perez is no different.
I went through the logs and unless I’m missing something, this was as locked in as Perez was at any point in 2021.* A pure power show.
*There was a mighty impressive stretch in late August that will appear much later on in the countdown.
#38 — 5/29/21 @ Minnesota Twins
Should we feel bad for Happ? He’s made this list three times!
None of the Salvy vs Happ dingers presented so far have traveled further than this one at 375 feet. The one immediately above had the highest exit velocity. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not like Perez was crushing Happ into oblivion. He was just consistently making good, solid contact. And when you’re a locked-in power hitter, that’s when good things happen.
Also, this is at Target Field, Perez’s favorite road stadium to hit dingers. He is a career .318/.349/.577 hitter in Minneapolis, and his 140 OPS+ is the best of any stadium where Perez has come to the plate at least 30 times. No opponent has hit as many home runs at Target Field as Perez, who has walloped 19 in his carer.
In other words, when J.A. Happ is pitching to Salvador Perez at Target Field, these kinds of fireworks are expected.
#37 — 8/25/21 @ Houston Astros
I have to come clean…when I’m going through this list, when I’ve seen something in “Zone 5,” I get wildly excited. What’s “Zone 5,” you ask. Let me show you visually.
That’s where this slider from Lance McCullers finished. It’s actually the first pitch in the countdown to sit middle-middle. Pro tip: Don’t throw any pitch in “Zone 5” to Perez.
This was the second home run Perez deposited in the Crawford Boxes on the Royals’ trip to Houston last summer. The first one was at #43 on the list off Zack Greinke and, to be honest, felt very Crawford Boxy. This one was less so. (There isn’t a ballpark in baseball more gimmicky than what they have in Houston.
Baseball Savant has an interesting section on it’s player pages called “Expected Home Runs by Park.” It’s essentially an estimation of how many dingers a player would have hit had he taken every single plate appearance at a particular yard. According to the data, Perez would’ve hit 54 home runs if he had played every game at Minute Maid Park. That’s kind of surprising to me, given those Crawford Boxes. There are plenty of ballparks where Perez would’ve surpassed even that total. I’ll have more on that later in the countdown. No spoilers!
#36 — 6/1/21 vs Pittsburgh Pirates (2)
“When he gets a hold of it…It can go a long way.”
- Pirates television broadcast
I’m not familiar with the voices in the Pirates television booth. I caught a few of their broadcasts from time to time in 2021 and came away largely unimpressed. But when you’re calling the action for a team careening to 100 losses, there’s not much excitement to be had watching an opposing player torch your club. We get it.
This is the second home run of the aforementioned home run barrage at number 39.
Perez entered the month of June with 10 home runs. Thanks in large part to this power show in the first two games of the month, he finished with 19 homers.
And he was just getting warmed up.