In recognition of A.J. Pierzynski‘s first home run as a Brave, we offer here a visual summary of his career. The three lines show his Wins Above Replacement (WAR), his Offensive WAR and his Defensive WAR for each season from the records at BaseballReference.com. Remember the rough idea is that 0 to 2 is a major league reserve (bench) player, 2 to 5 is a starter, 5 to 8 is all-star quality, and 8 and up is MVP quality. So, a horizontal line at 0 would mean a player that could easily be replaced with a random professional a team might find on waivers.
A few observations:
- A.J. has never been an amazing defensive player, but for the first half of his career, his overall contribution (WAR) was generally higher than his contribution on offense alone. Since about 2007 his defense has been a liability, lowering his overall WAR below his offensive WAR.
- For his career, he has been a fairly consistent 1-2 WAR player, with two all-star games (2002 and 2006), and as recently as 2012 he had an offensive WAR approaching 4.
- Since he has averaged a little over $5 million in annual salary in the years after his rookie contract ended, he has been a fairly good bargain for his teams. His 2015 salary with the Braves is $2 million. He looks like even in limited time this season backing up Christian Bethancourt he has a shot to give the Braves at least a win for their investment. He’ll likely be one of the Braves’ best pinch hitters as well.