‘I thank God’: Royals’ Salvador Perez ends season on top of MLB home run, RBI lists

Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez waits in the on-deck circle during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals’ season didn’t end the way many hoped after Kansas City fell to Minnesota 7-3 on Sunday, but there’s a shining star among a mediocre season.

Catcher Salvador Perez finished in a tie with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the big league home run lead with 48. Perez also wound up matching the team record for home runs set by Jorge Soler in 2019.

To add to the Royals star’s standout season, he also topped the majors with 121 RBIs.

“It was a lot of hard work and I thank God for this season,” Perez said. “To end the season this way was good, and I think we’ll only get better.”

Last month, Perez hit a two-run homer against Cleveland to break another MLB record. His 46th homer of the season helped him top Johnny Bench’s 1970 record for most home runs by a catcher in a season.

“It’s just a huge number,” Matheny said, “and I’ll say it again, to be able to do that while taking such a beating behind the plate and the kind of player he’s been all season, offensively and defensively — we’ve witnessed something very special.”

Many believe Perez would have been an MVP candidate had he played on a more successful team. The Royals finished their 2021 season with a 74-88 record (.457) and in fourth place in the American League Central.

But now the Royals will focus on continuing to develop their young talent and minor league system.

“I think we improved, but it’s all lip service right now,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Put your work gloves on, and let’s take the next step.”

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