The Cleveland Indians have been ravaged by the injury bug this season.
From losing key everyday players to almost their entire rotation at certain points, the club is fortunate to still be in the playoff picture.
The Indians activated Roberto Pérez from the injured list and designated René Rivera for assignment, as expected.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) July 3, 2021
Perez missed several months with a finger injury after appearing in just 19 games at the start of the season.
Cleveland greatly welcomes the 32-year-old’s return, and for good reason.
He brings a lot of value to the team despite not being a star.
Here are the two biggest ways the Indians will benefit from his return.
2. Although He Is Not Known For His Offense, His Bat Is An Upgrade Over Austin Hedges’
Let’s be clear: Perez is not a great offensive player.
In fact, he is a net negative at the plate.
But in his absence, the Indians have had to turn to Austin Hedges, and Hedges is arguably even worse offensively.
With Cleveland, Hedges is batting just .149 with a .440 OPS.
Over just 48 career games with the team, he has posted a miserable -0.9 offensive WAR.
Perez, on the other hand, is at least capable of getting hot.
He is a career .209 hitter with a .662 OPS, but he has had some strong campaigns.
His 2019 season, for instance, was solid.
That year, he batted .239 with a .774 OPS and 24 home runs.
— Cleveland Guardians (@CleGuardians) July 6, 2019
He also managed a 2.0 offensive WAR.
Having an elite defensive catcher who is capable of adding any sort of value at the plate is all you can ask for, and Perez is the only guy on the roster who fits that description.
1. His Presence Behind The Plate Will Immediately Make A Difference
As mentioned, Perez is generally not known for his offense, so it should come as no surprise to readers that he makes up for it on the other end.
In 2019 (the last full MLB season), Perez finished third in all of baseball with 12 Runs Extra Strikes (a stat that essentially measures how effective a catcher is at framing pitches).
The previous year, he finished just 17th by that measure, but the year before that, he was back in the top five.
He calls a great game, too, but that’s an area that’s hard to track statistically.
Overall, Perez’s defensive WAR tells you everything you need to know about him.
He has finished every season of his career with a positive defensive WAR, and for his career, he averages a defensive WAR of 2.7 per 162 games.
That’s a massive number.
It makes perfect sense that Perez is a two-time Gold Glover (in 2019 and 2020) and a one-time Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year award winner (in 2019).
He is the only catcher in the eight-year history of the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year award to take home the honors.
While Perez may not be the flashiest player in the league, he certainly adds value beyond the box score.
That’s why the Indians will benefit greatly from having him back.