AJ Pierzynski had a resurgent, surprisingly good season in 2015, his first season with the Braves. Appearing in 113 games, he put up a 111 wRC+ and finished with a 2 fWAR season as a 38-year-old.
Unfortunately, the fountain of youth that he found was lost this year, as his hitting and fielding struggles have been well-documented and somewhat of a bugbear for the 2016 Braves. Pierzynski’s 2016 wRC+ of 39 is the second-worst among all players with 250 or more PAs this season, and he also ranks in the bottom 10 in fWAR (-0.9).
Still, that didn’t stop him from having an exciting game in the Braves’ 4-3 win over the Mets earlier tonight, and it appears that Pierzynski may be going out on top, as he was spotted handing out cigars and hugs after the Braves completed their walkoff victory. Per Dave O’Brien:
#Braves Pierzynski hugging all teammates, passed out cigars. He's retiring, apparently right now.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) September 11, 2016
If this is it for Pierzynski, he goes out with a 2,000+ game career in which he put up nearly 23 fWAR. That puts him somewhere in the realm of top 75 most valuable catchers all time, perhaps not heady, Hall of Fame company, but meaningful nonetheless. Since his debut in 1998, only 13 catchers have put up more value than him, and Pierzynski was a contemporary of value heavyweights like Ivan Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, and Jorge Posada.
However, this may not be it for the old horse. Per Kevin McAlpin:
AJ Pierzynski was hugging teammates in the #Braves Clubhouse but did NOT announce his retirement. Said he doesn’t know what tomorrow holds.— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) September 11, 2016
I guess we’ll all find out what tomorrow holds together. But if this is it for AJ Pierzynski, he picked a pretty snazzy game to wrap it up with. Stay tuned for more, if you’re dying to find out what’s next in the AJ Pierzynski saga.
A #Braves official said as far as he knows A.J. not retiring now.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) September 11, 2016
Pierzynski said not retiring now, that he didn't pass out cigars, that Teheran did for son born last month https://t.co/2c6zZsqWhP— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) September 11, 2016