Monday, October 15, 2012

The durable A.J. Pierzynski

A.J Pierzynski turned slugger in 2012, with his first
season with a slugging percentage above .500.
A.J. Pierzynski had one of his best seasons in 2012 with 27 homers, nine more than his previous career high, and a career best OPS+ (on-base plus slugging, adjusted for park effects and compared to league average).

He's also about to enter free agency and will be 36 before next season.

He's been a mainstay for the Chicago White Sox for eight seasons, and I fully expect him to remain on the South Side. But man, there's a lot of mileage on those tires.

Several years ago, as the Twins and Joe Mauer were hammering out his megacontract, I did a series of posts on outstanding offensive catchers and how rapidly they aged. The general rule was: The harder the catcher was worked in his early years, the shorter his career and/or effectiveness.

Pierzynski has had some good seasons as a hitter, but he's not really on the level of the men involved in my study. But it's worth noting that he has caught more than 1,000 innings in 11 straight seasons now, and that's rare. Yogi Berra, for example, had a total of nine such workhorse seasons (not consecutive). Ivan Rodriguez,who holds the career games caught record, has 11 such seasons, again non-consecutive. Carlton Fisk, who caught into his mid-40s, had nine 1,000 inning seasons.

That Pierzynski can not only handle so much work behind the dish and put up career-best numbers as a hitter in his mid-30s is impressive. It probably helped that he didn't become a regular until age 24 — he wasn't asked to take on such a workload at age 20 — but his career pattern is hardly routine.

1 comment:

  1. It does make one wonder "what if" the Twins had immediately converted Mauer (or, alternatively, tried to convert Pierzynski) in to a third baseman. Could Morneau, Mauer and Pierzynski have happily co-existed in the Twins line up for a decade? Of course, we'd have probably never enjoyed Joe Nathan in a Twins uniform.