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A.J. Pierzynski approaching rare territory for catchers

Dec 3, 2013, 11:15 AM EDT

A.J. Pierzynski AP

Despite his remarkable consistency and durability, A.J. Pierzynski was unable to secure a multiyear deal again this winter. After spending 2013 with the Rangers, he’s joining the Red Sox on another one-year pact.

Working against Pierzynski is his age and throwing arm. Pierzynski turns 37 later this month, and he’s never been great at gunning down would-be basestealers. However, age seems to have hardly taken any toll on his game so far, and the arm alone is just a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to grading catchers.

That’s not to say Pierzynski is great. He’s a stopgap at this point in his career. But he really is on an amazing run. 2013 was his 13th straight season with 110 games caught and the 12th in a row in which he’s started that many. Despite not establishing himself until age 24, Pierzynski is up to 19th all-time in games caught with 1,678. He’ll pass Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Ray Schalk and Johnny Bench on the list in 2014.

He’ll also be entering rarefied air if he can keep this 110-game streak going. Here’s the list of guys who caught 110 games at 37 or older:

37 – Brad Ausmus, Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez, Benito Santiago, Ernie Whitt
38 – Brad Ausmus, Bob Boone, Fred Jacklitsch
39 – Bob Boone, Carlton Fisk
40 – Bob Boone
41 – Bob Boone
42 – Carlton Fisk

Since he won’t start against many left-handers,  Pierzynski will probably need to stay completely healthy to get to 110 again. At 37, that’s not as sure of a bet as it used to be. However, he’s been proving doubters wrong for a decade now.

  1. jfk69 - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    He will fit perfectly in Boston as a backup. Probably have a career year for hitting avg.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      I imagine he will be the starter in Boston, not the backup. Ross may play more than the usual backup, but I still expect AJ to get the lion’s share of PAs from the C position.

      • pastabelly - Dec 3, 2013 at 3:05 PM

        I agree. If they are paying him $8M, he will catch 100-110 games as indicated in this article and Ross will get 50-60.

  2. billyboots - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    A little sad to see him sign with the Red Sox rather than the Twins. Would have enjoyed seeing him in a Twins uniform again.

  3. xdj511 - Dec 3, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Anytime that you can join an elite club that has Ernie Whitt as a member, you’ve gotta go for it!

    • deepstblu - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      I’m not surprised no one mentioned Fred Jacklitsch. The anti-Federal League bias on this board is disgusting.

      • xdj511 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Wow, after I saw your comment I went and looked him up on the baseball register. He is on that list because he caught 122 games for Baltimore in the Federal League in 1914. I didn’t know that was counted as a major league!

      • eatitfanboy - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Weren’t the Charlestown Chiefs in the Federal League?

      • xdj511 - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM

        Yes fanboy. After it failed as a third major baseball league in 1915, the Federal League switched to minor league hockey. Oh, the irony, lol

      • eatitfanboy - Dec 3, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        Whew. I’m glad someone got the reference. I was afraid since that movie was made in the 70’s that it might fly over everyone’s head.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        Jacklitsch was rumored to have used performance enhancing liniments, so we refuse to acknowledge his accomplishments

      • aceshigh11 - Dec 3, 2013 at 5:02 PM

        Now THAT is funny.

  4. redsoxchamp11 - Dec 3, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    Paul Newman will always be Reg Dunlop in my eyes. I just turned 30 and actually own a Chiefs jersey…and live in st. Peterburg Florida where the rumor started by Reg had them going. lol.

    great movie. top 10 of all time for sports movies.

  5. mmeyer3387 - Dec 3, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    This is hard for an Orioles fan to admit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Pierzynski turns out to be much more than a “stop gap” for the Red Sox. He has been a very dependable player with a lot of drive to win, lots of wisdom & experience, and strong team leadership to share. He should be a good fit. A wise move for the Soxs.

  6. gloccamorra - Dec 5, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    I’m surprised there’s no mention of Pierzynski’s reputation as the guy a number of players would most like to punch out, including some players on his own teams.

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