Player Profile: AJ Pierzynski has been a durable and consistent catcher throughout his 16 year career. He’ll usually provide a more than adequate batting average at the catching position as well as decent power. He’s never been the best at drawing walks, but he doesn’t strike out much either (to date his highest strikeout total in a season is 78). The combination of plus power and consistent contact makes him an above average contributor at the catching position.
Sep 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers designated hitter A.J. Pierzynski (12) reacts to hitting a double in the fifth inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Defensively, Pierzynski has never been a Gold Glove candidate. But he has been a well-regarded game caller (he’s caught two no-hitters, one being a perfect game). His career caught stealing percentage is slightly below average, but not 2009-2011 Jason Varitek below average.
Pierzynski has usually been voted the most disliked player among his peers (I guess the name Alex Rodriguez never comes to mind when these votes take place). But most former teammates, including David Ortiz who came up through the minors with Pierzynski, have always come to his defense. He’s another person in the long line of athletes who teammates love but opponents hate.
2013 In Review: After a solid eight seasons with the Chicago White Sox, Pierzynski spent 2013 with the Texas Rangers on a one year pact. He put up a typical Pierzynski line, .272/.297/.425/.722 with 17 home runs, and 11 walks to 76 strikeouts. Defensively Pierzynski threw out 33% of potential base stealers, seven percent higher than the league average.
Pierzynski played in 134 games, 111 of them being starts at catcher. At age 36, he was able to defy Father Time and remain a stable performer at the game’s most grueling position.
2014 Outlook: Pierzynski signed yet another one-year pact this offseason, this time with the Red Sox. How Pierzynski performs, as well as the continuing development of highly-touted prospects Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and Dan Butler will determine if the relationship goes beyond one season.
He and David Ross should form a solid platoon and should compliment each other very well. To date, Pierzynski has yet to hit a home run at Fenway Park. He’ll get plenty of chances to cross that off his career bucket list. Despite never homering at Fenway, he still owns a solid OPS there and it could be even better now that he’ll be calling it home.
There’s really no reason for Red Sox fans to dislike Pierzynski since there really has never been notable conflicts between the two sides (and even if there were, perception always changes when the disliked person changes sides ex: Jonny Gomes in 2008). I look forward to watching A.J. in a Sox uniform and hope he can get under the skin of Yankees fans while putting up another typical Pierzynski campaign.