Anthony John Pierzynski has been one of the smartest players in the game for almost his entire career. From his knowledge of the rules of baseball to his ability to position any fielder not named Alex Rios to his ability to call a ballgame, A.J. is the scum of the league. Ozzie Guillen once said of him, “If you play against him you hate him. If you play with him you hate him a little less.”
Pierzynski is coming off of a typical A.J. season of 8 home runs, 48 runs batted-in, and a batting average of .287. He also managed to make it through the year without any controversies or punches to the face, extending his streak to six years – a personal best for the left-handed hitting catcher. A.J. played in 129 games in 2011 as rookie Tyler Flowers played in thirty games late in the year. Pierzynski is the kind of guy who would be behind the plate for all 162 games if he had the choice so the fact that he only played in 129 is strange.
All Pierzynski needs to do in 2012 is give us a regular season. 7-10 homers, 45-50 batted in, and an average around .280. In past seasons he’s performed better than that so I figured I’d set the bar low so we don’t get disappointed. His defense is still just as good as it was when we traded for him in 2005 so there isn’t anything to worry about in that area. However, as I mentioned, Tyler Flowers got a lot of playing time towards the end of the season so Flowers could get even more this year. It all depends on what Robin Ventura wants to do.
I’m a pretty big A.J. fan but I realize that we have a 25-year-old catcher waiting in the wings. A.J.’s reign as the Sox starting backstop might be coming to an end. Flowers (who hit for a measly .209 batting average but clubbed five home runs and drove in sixteen in his 38 games) still needs some developing but unless we trade for somebody more promising he’s our guy next. Unless he’s traded. Unless. Unless unless unless. Does that word bug you now?