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Defense defines Roberto Perez’s role in Pittsburgh

Perez won two Gold Gloves in 2019 and 2020.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
Pirates catcher Roberto Perez
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Roberto Perez has been a valuable addition to the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff.

The 33-year-old played his entire career in Cleveland from 2014 to 2021 and was known for his ability to command a mound group.

Perez won back-to-back Gold Glove awards in 2019 and 2020 working with pitchers including Shane Bieber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and others.

The Pirates added Perez to replace veteran Jacob Stallings, who was traded to the Miami Marlins over the offseason for Zach Thompson, Kyle Nicolas, and Connor Scott.

Perez is best known for his pitch framing and the ability to steal strikes on outside pitches.

Baseball Savant ranks Perez in the 87th percentile in pitch framing, one of the best in baseball through his 16 games.

Perez’s leadership and passion for catching and the game of baseball should help the young Bucs staff throughout 2022.

He owns a career 39 percent caught-stealing rate, including throwing out 3-of-9 attempted runners with the Pirates.

The former 33rd-round pick in 2008 has made a strong career for himself defensively while being a below-average Major League hitter. Perez is hitting only .196 with a .619 OPS in 46 at-bats this season. He only has nine total hits, one being a home run, and has plated six runs while scoring five. He only owns a lifetime career average just over the Mendoza Line at .206, holding a career OPS of .655.

The 2022 campaign is going to be a back-and-forth affair for the Pirates with multiple different highs and lows associated with a young and talented team trying to find their footing.

Seeing Perez catch Roansy Contreras, David Bednar, Mitch Keller, and other pitchers who the Pirates are depending on to help the staff succeed will be something to keep an eye on.

Perez will likely hit in the bottom of the order the entire season but his defensive value makes him a necessary piece to the Pirates’ current puzzle.

If some of the young arms can turn a corner and take a step forward, Perez should be credited for his work with the staff and ability to help bring balls back to the strike zone.

He is not nearly the same player as Russell Martin, but maybe Perez can mold into a similar type of leader and role model to Pirates pitching.