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Showdown: Will Smith vs. Salvador Perez

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: February 23, 2021, 3:30 pm ET

To celebrate both baseball's return and the launch of our 2021 MLB Draft Guide, we're going to be taking looks at what we have to offer all the way up to Opening Day. With a loaded arsenal of content -- from positional rankings, ADP reports and season-long projections, to mock drafts, projected lineups and draft cheat sheets -- we are as proud as we've ever been of what we've put together and are eager to share it with you in the coming weeks. No matter the format or size of your league, we are confident we can deliver the tools you need to secure that championship hardware.

Today, we'll be giving you a look at the guide's exclusive Player Showdown column series with the below excerpt from the catchers.

Will Smith vs. Salvador Perez


This is simply a case of upside vs. floor, at least in this person's eyes. You pretty much know what you're going to get from Perez, and there's nothing wrong with that. The .333 average is obviously not sustainable considering his career numbers and the lack of speed, but you know he'll hit for a decent clip and provide 20 homers or so, and drive in 75-85 runs. Nothing wrong with that. But Smith, on the other hand, is capable of so much more. He's impressed in his two years in the majors, and let's keep in mind that he doesn't turn 26 until the end of the year. He's shown the ability to hit for power, get on base, and his metrics are filled with numbers in the red. The only question mark here is how much playing time he's going to get, but even if he is only able to get his bat into games 120 times a year, he has the ability to be as good -- if not better -- than any backstop. You also have to love the lineup he's playing in; Kansas City still is a rebuilding club. The Dodgers are the best team in baseball. There's a little more risk with Smith than Perez, but the reward is so much higher. – Christopher Crawford (@Crawford_MILB)


All things being equal, I actually prefer Smith to Perez. To begin his career Smith has smashed 23 HR with a .937 OPS over just 284 at-bats. All while carrying a 11.7 Barrel% & 11.4% walk rate. The issue is at-bats. The Dodgers are one of few teams who roster two catchers who could legitimately play every day (Austin Barnes). Over the past two seasons Barnes has collected 345 plate appearances to Smith’s 333, (137 to 104 in favor of Smith in 2020). In fact, manager Dave Roberts directly stated that he doesn't see Austin Barnes as a "backup catcher,” and that he and Will Smith are more "1 and 1a" in a timeshare at the position. Barnes lacks Smith’s offensive spark, but is beloved by the pitching staff and will see plenty of starts behind the plate. Starts that Smith cannot make up without the National League DH. Perez is a veteran with a long track record of success that posted the highest barrel rate (13.9%) of his career in 2020. Add in an xBA of .325, xSLG of .624, and xwOBAcon of .387 and there is plenty to like, even compared to Will Smith. A 25.6 HR/FB%, well above his career norm, suggests regression may come, But his stellar in-zone contact rate should allow for continued success. The tie-breaker for me are the at-bats. Perez has posted at least 499 plate appearances in six out of the last seven full MLB seasons. In addition, Perez has no legitimate threat for playing time on his roster and has the ability to move over to first base or the DH slot. So as exciting as Will Smith is, you should draft Perez instead. – Matt Williams (@Matt Wi77iams)


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