Coming into the season, there were many assumptions about individual players and just how they’d perform. When it came to new Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, you wouldn’t get much debate on this view: There is no way that he’ll repeat 2012 again, or come anywhere close.
The assumption had some foundation. Look at the average season that A.J. had from 2001 through 2011
Nothing compared to his 2012 season.
Certainly Pierzynski, entering his age 36 season would drop off and at best, return to the norm.
Well, while Pierzynski isn’t at his 2012 clip, he hasn’t quite returned to the norm. Through play on July 28, take a look at what Pierzynski has done. Just for fun, I want to compare those numbers to what A.J. was at through the end of July in 2012. It’s not an exact comparison, but pretty close.
So, while Pierzynski isn’t at 2012 pace, some of his numbers aren’t far off of his 2011-2011 counted averages, and we still have two months to go. There’s more reason to be encouraged that good things are to come, at least for the next month.
- Pierzynski has 30 career home runs in August. That’s his second most productive month, tied with July. Only his 37 homers in June eclipse that total.
- Pierzynski has 128 career RBI in August. That total is bettered only by his career in June (163), and May (136).
- Pierzynski sports a .290 career batting average in August. Only his .309 total in June tops that.
The lesson: Don’t mess with A.J. in June, but it wouldn’t be a great idea to mess with him in August, either.
Actually, that’s not a coincidence or anomaly. Pierzynski is getting pitchers when they’re at their worst.
When the weather gets hot, the hitters tend to get better. The ball carries better, pitchers tire easier, and that leads to inflated hitting numbers. June and August are the months where these hurt pitchers the most. July can be bad, as well, but the All-Star Break in the middle of the month tends to give pitchers a break. But in June and August, there are no such breaks, and roster expansion hasn’t hit yet.
That applies to everyone. Some hitters do a better job with it than others, obviously. But also remember that in Texas, the weather is extremely hot. When you consider that it’s not a dome (and therefore has no AC), it’s probably the warmest stadium in the league through the summer months.
So, what makes Pierzynski so dang appealing?
Well, he’s a catcher. Right now, this is the (alphabetical) list of catchers owned in all (or virtually all) of ESPN leagues: Jonathan Lucroy, Victor Martinez, Joe Mauer, Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, Mike Napoli, Buster Posey, Wilin Rosario Carlos Santana, and Matt Wieters.
That’s it. That’s 10 guys. If you’re in a 10-team, one catcher league, you can probably stick it through, although insurance is not a bad idea, as this is the time of the year where catchers break down.
Even on that list, you have a .242 hitter in Wieters, while Pierzynski has more homers than Martinez, Mauer, and Molina. I’m not saying that A.J. is on par with any of those guys, but he’s just as good as anyone else out there. Lastly, unlike all of those guys, Pierzynski is available.
So, if you’re not in a 10-team lead, grab Pierzynski. If any of these guys start to slump or get hit, get A.J. on to your team.
He’s not having a 2012 caliber season, but is having an above average season. In fantasy baseball, the only thing that matters are the numbers. It doesn’t matter if those numbers aren’t as good as the previous year’s, only that they’re better than other players at their position.
Don’t let a negative stigma from March keep you from helping your team. Pierzynski has shown great value in August, so I’d grab him through August. Decide on what to do in September when that happens, but if you’re in need of help, don’t shy away from the old vet.