Johnny Bench‘s single-season home run record for a catcher had stood for 50 years. The Cincinnati Reds legend has now been replaced by Kanas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez who hit his 46th home run of the year today.
Perez has had a phenomenal year, and were it not for the ridiculous performance from Shohei Ohtani this season, Perez may be in line to take home the American League Most Value Player trophy. Perez is hitting .274/.314/.542 with 46 homers and 115 RBIs.
Bench’s 1970 season was one for the record books. The Reds’ backstop hit .293/.345/.587 with 45 home runs, 148 RBIs, and at 22 years old, Bench took home the NL MVP. The 1970 season was the first of three in which Bench led the NL in RBIs.
Reds legend Johnny Bench congratulated Salvador Perez.
In a classy move by Johnny Bench, the former Cincinnati Reds catcher took to social media to congratulate Salvador Perez. Bench quoted the late, great Yogi Berra by stating, “I knew my record would stand until it was broken.”
Perez deserves all the accolades he’s receiving for surpassing Bench’s mark of 45 round trippers. It’s no easy task anymore to clobber 40-plus homers, much less as a catcher. Bench is the only player in the history of the game to lead the league in home runs while primarily donning the tools of ignorance.
Bench led the majors in both of his MVP-winnings season (1970 and 1972). Perez is currently tied with Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Shohei Ohtani trails both Perez and Guerrero Jr. by two.
While Perez has had a fantastic season, and career to this point, he’s still far away from matching the greatest catcher of all-time. Perez has five Gold Gloves, seven All-Star appearances, and a World Series MVP to his name during his 10-year career.
Johnny Bench, however, owns 10 Gold Gloves, went to the Midsummer Classic 14 times, took home two NL MVP trophies, won Rookie of the Year in 1968, and is a two-time winner of World Series MVP honors. Congrats, Salvy. Well deserved. But you’ve got a long way to go to catch the greatest catcher of all-time.