The major league leader in home runs is a pitcher, and he needs no introduction.
The guy in second place is a catcher – and that’s pretty remarkable in its own right.
Kansas City’s Salvador Perez has been on an extended tear since the All-Star break, and he now has 38 home runs on the season, just three behind major league leader Shohei Ohtani. Perez is on track to set an American League record for most homers by someone who played at least 75% of his games behind the plate. Carlton Fisk set the previous mark of 37 in 1985, so as long as Perez catches enough games, he’ll surpass Fisk.
Perez has 17 homers in 40 games since the All-Star break. His 12 home runs in August have tied the team record for any calendar month. After missing the whole 2019 season following Tommy John surgery, Perez has 49 homers in 166 games since the start of 2020.
The 31-year-old Perez is a link between the current Royals and their championship team of 2015. In fact, he was the World Series MVP that year. Kansas City is in fourth place now, and while veterans like Perez and Whit Merrifield have value, they are both over 30, and the team’s rebuild appears to have a ways to go.
The Royals do have the No. 3 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline in Triple-A shortstop Bobby Witt. Right-hander Brady Singer is 3-9 with a 4.87 ERA for Kansas City, but the 25-year-old is averaging about a strikeout an inning and the Royals have reason to be patient with him.
SPEAKING OF YOUNG SHORTSTOPS
Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco has reached base in 29 straight games. The Rays have won seven straight games and lead the AL East by six – even though the second-place Yankees recently won 13 in a row.
The record for the longest on-base streak by a player age 20 or younger was set by a member of the Cincinnati Reds who went on to make the Hall of Fame. Who was it?
LINE OF THE WEEK
Not the best line by any means, but Philadelphia’s Zack Wheeler had a fascinating night on the mound against Tampa Bay on Wednesday, allowing seven runs and 10 hits in eight-plus innings and striking out 10 – all while throwing just 102 pitches. According to the Stathead Baseball tool, the last time a pitcher threw so few pitches while allowing at least 10 hits and going at least eight innings was in 2017, when Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova did it in 100 pitches. But Nova had only one strikeout.
COMEBACK OF THE WEEK
The Pirates scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh, erasing a 7-3 deficit and beating St. Louis 11-7 on Thursday night. Gregory Polanco, who had been getting booed regularly at Pittsburgh’s home park, hit a two-run double during the big inning. The Pirates released Polanco on Saturday. Before Pittsburgh’s big rally, the Cardinals’ win probability peaked at 95.4% in the seventh, according to Baseball Savant.
Minnesota’s Miguel Sano hit a 495-foot home run out of Fenway Park on Wednesday night, the longest homer of the year so far, according to Statcast. Sano’s homer wasn’t pulled down the left-field line. It left the park at the center-field edge of the Green Monster and cleared the seats and a fence beyond the 37-foot wall.
Frank Robinson had a 43-game streak for the Reds in 1956.
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