I’ve seen Pierzynski get on hot streaks before, but never with this much extra-base power
— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) April 19, 2012
A.J. Pierzynski continued his early-season tear Wednesday night, going 2 for 4 with another homer. This particular blast not only provided all the runs the White Sox would need on the night, but gave A.J. four bombs on the year.
He hit 8 last season.
He’s played in 9 games this season.
The start of 2012 has been a pretty remarkable stretch in Pierzynski’s career. Hell, he’s even 2 for 3 throwing out base-stealers.
29 total bases in 36 plate appearances has left AJ with a pretty nifty .829 slugging percentage on the year, and it’s not easy work to find a comparable stretch. As Merkin hints at, the typical Pierzynski hot streak sees him spraying singles to the opposite field, not embracing the temptations of pull power.
2011–by all means a resurgent year–saw Pierzynski put together a stretch in early August where he put four consecutive games with an extra-base hit together. From August 3rd to the 12th, Pierzynski hit .394/.417/.636, and accumulated 21 total bases. Not as good, man.
In 2010, A.J. managed to squeeze two home runs in close together, and hit .353/.353/.676. 23 total bases. Closer to the magical total, less effective actual hitting, though.
In 2009, from April 29th to May 11th, Pierzynski homered three times, doubled twice, and added a triple to accumulate 28 total bases in a 36 plate appearance stretch. He had a .441/.472/.824 line over that time. One could make the argument that this was just as good, if not better than the streak A.J. is on right now.
In 2008, from August 12th to the 24th, A.J. got a truckload of hits. He hit .425/.439/.725 in 9 games, with three doubles and three home runs. It was enough for 29 total bases, though it came in 42 plate appearances. Apparently the 2008 offense liked to bat around a lot, or something.
2007 witnessed Pierzynski hit 4 HRs over the course of 9 starts, which he immediately followed up by going homerless for two and a half months.
Pierzynski’s monthly OPS splits for 2006 were .790, .836, .785, .780, .667, .763. And the .667 month is when he hit the most home runs. In other words, there were no clumps of offense close to being on par with this.
In 2005, a mid-May stretch saw Pierzynski homer in four straight games, and five times in a 9 game stretch. They were also his only extra-base hits of the time and he collected 26 total bases.
Without belaboring the point any further, or drudging through any more of Pierzynski’s power-starved years, this shouldn’t be expected to continue, or anything really close. Offensive breakthroughs aren’t the types of gifts one gets for their 35th birthday.
But one can’t help but stand up and take notice when a hitter is posting the biggest power-stretch of a 12-year career. Pierzynski’s probably going to top last year’s power numbers–at the very least his HR totals–simply due to the size of this blip. If it actually turns out to be indicative of a season-long emphasis on pulling the ball for power–and it is absurd to assume it is at this point–he could dwarf offensive expectations for him, which would really help considering how much under-performance could be lingering in other parts of the order.
In any case, he’s dragged the Sox to a over .500 record, knocking in over a third of team’s RBI. More tellingly, Pierzynski has yet to be knocked in by anyone else.