We’re all aware of the surprising impact Roberto Perez has made during the first two games of the ALDS at the plate. His Game 1 home run got the party started, and he continued to make an impact in Game 2 by drawing two walks and scoring a run.
But Perez’s biggest impact is behind the plate.
We’ve seen him block multiple balls in the dirt, which has drawn praise from the TBS announcers, but his most critical impact comes from his pitch-framing ability.
While we’ve loved Yan Gomes‘ defense behind the plate in recent years, Perez holds a substantial advantage when it comes to making the pitching staff look better—which is likely the reason he continues to play over Gomes in this series against Boston.
The image below shows Perez’s Strikes Looking Above Average rates when catching Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin this season (I selected the Tribe’s postseason starters to show how Perez can directly impact the pitching during this playoff run).
The red areas show where Perez is getting significantly more called strikes compared to the league average. Green is where he’s in line with the league average. And deep blue is where’s below average.
Now let’s look at Yan Gomes with the same selection of pitchers:
Gomes overall SLAA is slightly above average (as I said, he’s still a good defensive catcher) but there’s an obvious difference between the images of Perez and Gomes.
Perez’s ability to frame pitches (especially high in the zone) has carried over to the post season. Here’s a look at his SLAA heat map for all pitchers in Games 1 and 2 against Boston:
During these games Perez has already been credited with four “strikes framed” (pitches that were called strikes but across the league are called strikes less than 25% of the time in the same location). Two of these “strikes framed” were strike-threes (both against Jackie Bradley Jr.).
In the regular season, Perez generated 87 “strikes framed” in 61 games, putting his postseason numbers slightly above his regular season rate.
This is an area of the game that rarely gets discussed, but Tribe fans should appreciate the hidden impact Perez has on the game.