Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, shown Sept. 5, blasted his 45th home run of the season during Thursday's game against the Oakland Athletics. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Kansas City Royals slugger Salvador Perez hit his 45th home run of the season Thursday against the Oakland Athletics, tying Baseball Hall of Fame member Johnny Bench's single-season record for homers by a catcher.
Perez belted a two-run homer in the first inning of the Royals' 7-2 loss to the A's, equaling Bench's home run total from 1970 for the most by an individual who played at least 75% of his team's games at catcher.
The 31-year-old Perez currently is tied with Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the MLB lead in home runs. Perez also leads the majors with 112 RBIs this season.
"We're witnessing a special season," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "We're witnessing a special player. To be able to be put in the conversation with one most would say is the best ever is pretty rare."
Perez also tied Mike Sweeney for second on the Royals' all-time list with 197 home runs. George Brett holds the club record with 317 homers.
Perez, a seven-time All-Star selection, is just three home runs away from matching Jorge Soler's single-season team record of 48 in 2019.
After rebounding from an elbow injury that forced him to miss the entire 2019 season, Perez has been lights out at the plate across the past two seasons. His 56 home runs in 2020 and 2021 are the most in the majors over that span, while his 144 RBIs rank third.
Bench, a two-time National League MVP, spent his entire MLB career with the Cincinnati Reds (1967-83) and finished with 389 career home runs. The 14-time All-Star and two-time World Series champion had a .267 career batting average with 2,048 hits and 1,376 RBIs.