The lineups are out for Game Two of the World Series, and Salvador Perez is still in there, batting seventh. Immovable it seems, despite being 5-for-37 in the playoffs. Despite having batted .229/.236/.360 in the second half of the regular season. Despite having a 60:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio since the start of July. Despite being brutally bad at the two most crucial defensive skills for catchers, framing pitches and blocking balls in the dirt. Despite it all, Perez is in there.
And I guess that’s the only option Ned Yost has, at this point. He’s carefully made backup backstop Erik Kratz as rusty as a relief pitcher’s razor. Perez started 143 games at catcher this season, and played 146 at catcher, altogether. Kratz is actually very good at framing and blocking pitches, and he’s as good a hitter as Perez even at his worst. I don’t want to overstate the case, but I would bet that replacing Perez with Kratz and flipping Kratz with Omar Infante in the batting order could improve the Royals’ chances of winning tonight by two or three percent. That’s me not overstating the case, and still, that’s huge, right?
I imagine a completely intangible, “Salvy-is-our-guy,” personality-oriented rationale informs Yost’s insistence upon keeping Perez in the lineup. I don’t buy into that stuff, but let’s say that I did. Let’s say I thought the pitchers were so much more comfortable throwing to this road-weary oaf who carries the ball out of the strike zone every time they aim for the corner that they would collapse if forced to throw to one who didn’t know their favorite kind of beef jerky but expertly handles balls in the dirt and on the edges of the zone. Even if that’s true, can it possibly be worth two or three percent of a win in a single game?
Again, Kratz has seen the field scarcely at all recently. His last start behind the plate was August 31 (!!!), and he only managed even substitute appearances in three September games. He has yet to play in the Postseason. It’s impractical to start him. But the fact that Yost and Perez have allowed it to become impractical is stupid, galling and possibly the thing that will cost them a game sometime during the World Series.Next post: World Series Game Two: Royals Bounce Back, Batter Giants Bullpen
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