The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. With the former Texas Ranger on his way to Boston, here are some things to know about the Red Sox newest backstop addition:
1. He has strong offensive numbers
Pierzynski has been a strong offensive catcher over the course of his 16-year career. He has a lifetime average of .283 with 172 home runs and 800 RBIs. He has hit .270 or higher in each of the past five seasons, including a .272 mark with Texas in 2013 at age 36. He won a Silver Slugger as the best hitting catcher in the American League in 2012 when he batted .278 with 27 home runs and 77 RBIs.
2. He can throw out base stealers
Pierzynski is known for having a terrific arm and is exceptional at throwing out opposing base runners. Over the past five seasons, he has finished in the top four in the AL at catching runners stealing, throwing out 24 in 2013, second in the AL, and he finished with a caught-stealing percentage of 32.9 percent. His career caught-stealing average is 25 percent.
3. He is an excellent defensive catcher
Along with Pierzynski’s strong offensive numbers, the Red Sox also had defense in mind when they agreed to this signing. Pierzynski has been in the top four in the AL for putouts by a catcher in nine of the past 11 seasons and currently is first overall in active players in that category, while 10th overall in history. He led the AL in assists by a catcher in 2012, finishing second last season, and has also led the AL in double plays turned by a catcher for the past two seasons. Pierzynski had also finished in the AL top five in fielding percentage as a catcher nine of the past 11 seasons, including finishing first in 2005, 2011, and 2013.
4. He has been reliable
Since 2002, his first full season as starting catcher with the Minnesota Twins, he has never started fewer than 111 games, a feat for any full-time catcher from the most demanding position in baseball. Even at age 36 in 2013, Pierzynski caught 119 games for the Rangers, while also spending 12 games as a DH. Now 37, Pierzynski will be able to split time with 36-year-old David Ross behind the plate in Boston, which should help his body stay fresh and keep his offensive numbers high.
5. He has a bad reputation
Of all the positives to come out of this deal, one negative is the reputation he has around MLB. In 2011, a Sports Illustrated poll of 215 major league players was released and stated that Pierzynski was chosen by his peers as the “meanest player in baseball," finishing with 29 percent of the vote, far ahead of second place Chase Utley, who garnered 13 percent. His former manager with the White Sox, Ozzie Guillen, has also stated that “if you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.” Pierzynski got into a major brawl in 2006 with Cubs catcher Michael Barrett after Pierzynski crashed into him at home plate during a game, and also had a public spat with former White Sox teammate, and now Red Sox teammate, Jake Peavy back in 2011.
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer