Kansas City Royals star catcher Salvador Perez beat out his countryman and Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve for the Luis Aparicio Award, recognizing the top Venezuelan player in Major League Baseball this season.
Perez became the first catcher to win the award, announced on Wednesday, and he won unanimously. Altuve, who won the honor in 2017, placed second.
The award, created in 2004, pays tribute to the first Venezuelan-born player enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Past winners include All-Stars Johan Santana, Magglio Ordoñez and Miguel Cabrera.
Aparicio, a shortstop, played 18 seasons in the majors and compiled a list of accomplishments that includes 13 All-Star selections, nine Gold Gloves, the 1956 AL Rookie of the Year and World Series championship with the Baltimore Orioles in 1966.
Perez led the majors in RBIs (121) and tied for the lead in home runs (48). He tied the Royals single-season home run record set by Jorge Soler in 2019, and Perez came within one home run of the single-season record by a Venezuelan-born player set by Eugenio Suarez (49) in 2019.
Perez’s 48 homers were the most in a season for a primary catcher (at least 75% of his games at catcher) in major-league history. He surpassed the previous record of 45 set by Hall of Famer Johnny Bench in 1970.
By leading the majors in both home runs and RBIs, Perez became just the second primary catcher to lead in both, the other having been Bench in 1970 and 1972.
Perez batted .273 and his .859 OPS was a career high for a full-length season, as was his .544 slugging percentage (10th-best in MLB).
Perez batted .273 with a .316 on-base percentage and a .544 slugging percentage this season. His slugging percentage ranked 10th among MLB qualifiers.
Perez was also the Royals nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which was awarded to Tampa Bay Rays slugger Nelson Cruz on Wednesday. The Clemente award goes to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”