Surely somewhere in the middle of Tom Fornelli’s (@SouthSideAsylum) attempt to wage war with all of Twitter on Monday and argue that it was a good idea for the White Sox to let A.J. Pierzynski walk in free agency, it was referenced that re-upping a 36 year-old catcher may not be the best use of millions of dollars. Baseball itself probably isn’t the best use of millions of dollars, but good luck stopping that train.
But how bad is it to trust an old catcher to keep on truckin’? Let’s investigate.
In his efforts to wildly distend the concept of a full-time catcher’s workload, A.J. Pierzynski only once failed to accumulate 500 plate appearances in a season during his White Sox tenure. It was in 2005, when he had yet to really get his hooks into all of us, and even then he still went to bat 497 times.
If we decided to be generous and ask, “How have catchers 36 years and older faired in seasons where they have received over 450 plate appearances while starting behind the plate 70% of the time?” what would we get?
First, just 21 catchers of this age group have logged this workload this since 1901. 17 of these seasons have taken place since 1980. Seven of those have featured above-average offensive performances according to OPS+. Sorry, no, just six. Less than a third, though Birdie Tebbets, Brad Ausmus and Luke Sewell were never above-average hitters to beging with. (Tebbets and Sewell are pre-1950, though)
Half of those above-average seasons were carried out by Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk. The best season on this list is the bright-burning absurdity of Fisk hitting .285/.378/.451 in 521 PA’s as a 42 year-old. Beyond that sorcery, we have:
- 38 year-old Jorge Posada for the Yankees in 2010: .248/.357/.454 in 451 PA
- 36 year-old Ernie Whitt for the Blue Jays in 1988: .251/.348/.410 in 468 PA
- 37 year-old Benito Santiago for the Giants in 2002: .278/.315/.450 in 517 PA
“It is not something that we have to worry about,” (Rios) said. “It is just going to take time to heal. I felt better this morning but on certain moves I still feel a little pinch there. I had pretty decent progress from yesterday until to today. I feel looser. Let’s see what happens.”
A regiment of electric stimulation and oral medication are part of Rios’ treatment by the team medical and training staff.
“A quiet offseason for the Chicago White Sox leaves them likely to be around .500 in 2013, still enough to be threatening if the pitching stays healthy. One potential issue: There’s not a lot of organizational depth to handle any nasty surprises.”