According to some, A.J. Pierzynski is the 2nd most indispensable member of the White Sox (as "ranked by talent, makeup, and value to the team"), but he's also currently the worst hitter in all of baseball by one measure. As of this writing, AJ ranks last in all of baseball in Colin's favorite stat wOBA (weighted On-Base Average). Now wOBA only tells you what a guy has (or in this case hasn't) hit, it doesn't, as Hawk would say, tell you when he hit it; for that we have WPA (Win Probability Added), which is simply a measure of how each players at-bats (or pitches) effect the probability of winning for each team. In this measure too Pierzynski is woeful, 2nd-to-last in all of baseball, worth slightly more than 2 losses all by himself. [Source: Fangraphs, it exists]
But don't worry SSSers, AJ can fall back on the tried-and-true approach of swinging at nearly everything thrown his way. There are only 4 (qualified) players who have swung at a higher percentage of pitches than Pierzynski this season, and only 3 who've swung at a greater percentage outside the zone. He's got only one way to go!
So while at least one local beat writer stumps for Pierzynski to get an extension, we'll simply point out that even if Tyler Flowers were to fall on his face -- something that's not out of the question given his own contact issues -- he still figures to be more productive than Pierzynski has been in the season's first three weeks... and about $5M cheaper.
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Speaking of guys who swing at everything, Alexei Ramirez has yet to take a walk this season. That's a streak of 18 games to start the season, and 19 dating back to last year. His career-high walkless streak is 20, so he's still got something to shoot for. He had 5 streaks of 15 games or more in 2008 alone, so this is hardly new territory. Alexei is in a war of attrition with Carlos Gonzalez and Pedro Feliz to see who can go the longest without walking to open the season.
Sadly, Alexei's slow start this season isn't anything new, but this year it hasn't been accompanied by brutal at-bats. In each of his first two seasons when he struggled over the opening 6 weeks, Ramirez spent April flailing wildly at breaking balls and off-speed stuff. I can honestly say I haven't noticed a single laugh-inducing, out-of-control cut this season, yet his strikeout rate is at an all-time high. According to Fangraphs, he appears to be having more trouble with fastballs this season, which could signal a drop in bat speed. Let's just hope it's just one of those small sample size anomalies, like Paul Konerko leading all of baseball in homers.