Pierzynski providing quantity *and* quality

Back in March, The Hardball Times asked five questions about the White Sox.  Question No. 3:

3. Does A. J. Pierzynski go bowling with Dorian Gray or something?

Chris Jaffe noted that Pierzynski was one of the most consistent players in baseball, saying, “It’s like he’s a cyborg sent from the future to draw 22 walks a season.”
The piece goes on to guess that Pierzynski is “a really good bet to decline,” although the author makes sure to qualify his statement plenty.
It’s a good thing he did, because Pierzynski is on the cusp of having his greatest season in many major offensive categories (followed by rank and career best total):

  • .311 BA (2nd, .312)
  • .342 OBP (2nd, .360)
  • .462 SLG (2nd, .464)
  • 18 HR (t-1st)
  • 66 R (t-1st)
  • 25 BB (t-1st)
  • 49 K (2nd, 27)

One more remarkable stat: Pierzynski is on pace to play in 144 games, and that would also be a career high.
Catchers shouldn’t be doing this, especially at age 32. Catchers shouldn’t be catching a day game after a night game like Pierzynski did on Wednesday, especially after taking a Billy Butler swing to the scapula during the series.
(He also caught Jose Contreras to victory, giving Ramon Castro yet one more reason to stay on the bench.
I didn’t bother making a prediction for Pierzynski in the book, as I had learned my lesson the year before.  All I said was that he had virtually no trade value, since the market dropped dramatically one year after Pierzynski signed his two-year, $12.5 million extension (soon to be $13 million), so the Sox are stuck with him.
And even though I basically kept my mouth shut, I’m not looking that smart, either. Pierzynski is giving the Sox exactly what they paid for.  He’s the Buca di Beppo of catchers — his game costs a little more than you think it should, but it’s decent, and you get a ton of it.  Kenny Williams signed up for league-average offensive production (88-90 OPS+) by the bulk, and Pierzynski’s delivering.
Hell, Pierzynski’s well-above average in terms of OPS+ (105).  Even if Pierzynski drops off in September like he did three years ago, “league-average” will probably be about the worst he’s capable of from here on out. Even FanGraphs likes him, and his lack of walks has killed his sabermetric value for years.
The only true shortcoming for Pierzynski had been in the RBI column. That stat has major flaws, but it’s still weird to think that Pierzynski entered the Royals series with only five more RBI than Chris Getz.  Then he created some separation with a big two-run homer on Monday, and another important single on Tuesday.
And if it weren’t perplexing enough, guess how many times Pierzynski, arguably the most-hated man in baseball, has been plunked?
He came into 2009 with eight HBPs in each of his last three seasons.  This year, pitchers haven’t found themselves throwing far enough inside.
By the time the year is over, the number of walks may be the only thing that really looks Pierzynskish.  If that’s the case, good luck trying to figure him out in 2010.  He was hard enough to predict when his game never changed.
Random Diamond Note: The White Sox clubhouse is tense, after Wilson Betemit called Matt Thornton “large intestine face”, end now Ozzie Guillen has a problem, because Ehren Wassermann was so offended he asked for a trade, which Ken Williams is hesitant to do, but might if he can get a Freddy Dolsi, whose big personality might be just the right thing in the locker room, or Carl Pavano.
Also, I’ve reposted The Podsednik Paradox.
Minor league roundup:

  • Durham 10, Charlotte 2
    • Tyler Flowers returned to the lineup and struck out three times in three at-bats. The Knights struck out 17 times overall.
    • Ehren Wassermann threw two scoreless innings; Jack Egbert, John Van Benschoten and Derek Rodriguez were all pummeled.
    • Stefan Gartrell went 0-for-2 with a walk; Cole Armstrong drew the collar.
  • Winston-Salem 5, Potomac 4
    • Brent Morel went 2-for-4 with a double, his 30th.
    • Greg Paiml doubled and homered; Dale Mollenhauer homered; Tyler Kuhn went 1-for-4.
    • Justin Edwards allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks, striking out three.  He also induced 12 groundouts.
  • Kannapolis 7, Lexington 5
    • Drew Garcia went 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI.
    • Eduardo Escobar smacked a homer and two singles; Kenny Williams went 2-for-5.
    • Josh Phegley hit his eighth homer, a two-run shot.
    • Jared Mitchell went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.
    • Charles Leesman threw a quality start: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
    • Dan Remenowsky picked up the save with a scoreless inning; two K’s, one hit.
  • Bristol 8, Princeton 4
    • Good news for Jeffer Patino: He went 5-for-5 with a triple and two RBI. Bad news: It only raised his average to .183.
    • Brady Shoemaker went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and a walk.
    • Matthew Heidenreich and Taylor Thompson each tossed two scoreless innings in relief.
  • Idaho Falls 3, Great Falls 2
    • Kyle Colligan went 2-for-3 with a walk.
    • Nick Ciolli went 1-for-3 with a walk.
    • Jimmy Ballinger allowed two runs on two hits and two walks over five innings, striking out three.
    • Jacob Wilson struck out four over two scoreless.

And here’s a favorable review of second-round pick Trayce Thompson, by way of the Cheat.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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I am really concerned about a huge AJ decline in September these games are piling up. And we all know how poor his September was in 2008. Really hope he manages to finish it out strong cause we are gonna need him.
Uh, did I really just read an article with a Stanton comparison, haha ok someone got into the koolaid a lil bit.


When, exactly, do we have to start calling Brady Shoemaker, he of the 1.036 OPS after 174 abs a prospect worth following? I mean don’t get me wrong, I like looking at Thompson’s swing too, but we gotta give a Hoosier a little love no?