MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Perez crushes key homer for 500th career hit

Catcher joins elite company with outstanding offensive performance

Perez crushes key homer for 500th career hit

OAKLAND -- Royals catcher Salvador Perez is keeping pretty good company in baseball's record books.

Perez delivered a two-run home run in the eighth inning of the Royals' 5-3 victory against the A's at the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, the 500th hit of his career.

Perez's two-run homer

Perez became the 21st catcher in Major League history to have 500 career hits by the age of 25, according to Baseball-Reference.com, which includes any player who was 25 or younger on June 30 or earlier in a season.

He didn't get the ball. A fan who retrieved the home run offered a phone number and said he would negotiate, but Perez didn't seem concerned.

"I got the home run," he said.

It was a big home run that expanded a 3-2 lead and provided the ultimate run differential in a game that lifted the Royals to 16 games above .500 (44-28) for the first time this year.

But then Royals manager Ned Yost, a former catcher himself, wouldn't expect anything but a big play on offense and/or defense from Perez.

"My appreciation for him shows in how many games he has caught in the last couple of years," said Yost. "It's hard to take him out of the lineup because he is such a big offensive threat, and he is such a good defensive catcher. He's a good hitter, run producer and catcher. You can't think of many of those."

Perez, who turned 25 on May 10, is definitely one of those, right up there with Buster Posey and Yadier Molina.

And that is why no catcher in the game has made more starts than Perez since he arrived in the big leagues on June 22, 2012. Perez started his 409th game in that stretch on Sunday afternoon. The next two in line were Molina of the Cardinals with 372 starts and Miguel Montero of the Cubs with 367 prior to Sunday night's game between their two teams.

"The guy, from the moment he got here, has been a threat and he is doing the job offensive along with being a Gold Glove behind the plate," said Yost, a former catcher himself.

He joins Joe Mauer, now a first baseman primarily with the Twins, and current Yankee Brian McCann as the only active players who were catchers and had 500 hits by the age of 25.

"What's that say about him?" repeated Yost. "It says he's pretty darn good."

He has the numbers to back that up.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.