Catchers aren't traditionally known for their Home Run (HR) hitting abilities. But every now and then, a few talented backstops have breakout seasons at the plate.
This short article focuses on catchers and the long ball, and specifically answers the question of who has the most HR in a season by a catcher. The answer may surprise you, since it may change depending on who you ask.
Keep reading to learn why Salvador Perez and Javy Lopez can both claim the record of most HR by a catcher in a single season.
To learn more about all types of catcher statistics and catcher records, see our article here.
Javy Lopez's 43 Home Runs in 2003
Atlanta Braves catcher Javy Lopez had a career year in 2003, a season in which the Braves won the NL East for the ninth consecutive year.
In 2003, Lopez hit .328/.378/.687 with 43 home runs and 109 RBIs, all of which were career highs. He finished in the top ten in the NL in WAR (6.8), slugging percentage (.687), OPS (1.065), total bases (314), RBIs (109), and more. Lopez was also named to the all star team, won the silver slugger, and finished fifth in NL MVP voting that season.
Of Lopez's 43 homers in '03, approximately 42 of them were hit while he was playing defensively as a catcher.
So, if you count the record as home runs that were hit only during games in which the player was catching, then Javy Lopez holds the record of most HR in a season by a catcher with 42/43 in 2003.
Salvador Perez's 48 Home Runs in 2021
Salvador Perez made his big league debut in 2011. Before long, he was a regular all star.
However, it wasn't until his tenth season in the major leagues - at 31 years old - that Perez had his career year. In 2021, the long-time Royals catcher and 2015 World Series MVP hit .273/.316/.544 with 48 home runs and 121 RBIs (both career highs).
Perez's home run total in 2021 was tied for first in the AL, alongside Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This was indeed a breakout long ball season for Perez, who prior to 2021 never hit more than 27 home runs in a season.
Obviously, Salvy's 48 home runs in 2021 are more than Javy's 43 in '03.
So why did we even include Javy in this discussion? It's because 31 of Perez's 48 home runs occurred during a game in which the Royals catcher was in the lineup defensively behind the plate. The other 17 home runs he hit in '21 came as a DH.
Therefore, Salvador Perez holds the record for most home runs hit in a season by a catcher if you're not concerned with whether or not the player was catching when each home run was hit.
Another way to say this is that Perez holds the record for most HR in a season by a catcher who played at least 75% of his games behind the plate.
Has Any Catcher Hit 50 Home Runs in a Season?
No MLB catcher has ever hit 50 or more home runs in a season.
Salvy has come the closest so far, with his 48 homers in 2021 as detailed above.
Thanks for Reading
We hope this brief article helps explain why both Javy Lopez and Salvador Perez can claim the distinction of hitting the most home runs in a season by a catcher.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with us.
Thanks for stopping by Catchers Home.