Comparing Geovany Soto to A.J. Pierzynski

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Comparing Geovany Soto to A.J. Pierzynski

When Tony Andracki and I rolled out our Chicago All-Decade Team for 2000-2011, we figured there would be plenty of people who wouldn't agree with our decision to put Geovany Soto behind the plate over A.J. Pierzynski. Today on Chicago Tribune Live, David Kaplan, along with Fred Mitchell, Bob Foltman and Jason Goch, debated our list -- specifically, our inclusion of Soto over Pierzynski:

Mitchell's note that Pierzynski's intangibles shouldn't be overlooked is certainly fair. There's no position in baseball at which "intangibles" are more important than catcher. Plus, Pierzynski has a fine track record working with pitchers, and everyone who's thrown to him has been complimentary.

Pierzynski has won a World Series with the White Sox and has endeared himself to the fanbase, both of which count for something. But Soto still wins out, albeit narrowly.

If we're looking at three categories for evaluation, Soto wins two: offense and defense. Pierzynski easily wins the category we can't measure -- intangibles.

But offensively, Soto has been superior to Pierzysnki despite the up-and-down nature of his four full seasons in the majors. In those four years, Soto has a .254 batting average, but that's nowhere near as important as his .347 on-base percentage. His OPS over that span sits at .798, which is very good for a catcher.

In Pierzynski's seven years with the White Sox, he owns a .279 batting average. But that shouldn't be of much concern -- his .317 on-base percentage is a full 30 points lower than that of Soto. And his .730 OPS also pales in comparison.

By OPS, Soto rates above average (108), while Pierzynski rates below-average (90) offensively. So Soto wins that category.

And defensively, Soto rates better than Pierzynski. In 2011, Soto was a top 25 defensive catcher, while Pierzynski rated as the fourth-worst in baseball. While putting a value on catcher defense is still a work in progress for the statistical community, Matt Klaassen's ratings currently stand as the best we have.

Granted much of Pierzynski's lack of defensive value comes from his struggles throwing out runners, some of which isn't his fault thanks to the slow deliveries of, say, Gavin Floyd. But he rates as below-average in terms of passed balls and wild pitches, whereas Soto is above average in that category. So, using this analysis, Soto bests Pierzynski defensively.

And now we reach the subject of intangibles. This is what it comes down to: We can't place a value on intangibles, but they are important for a catcher. But because Soto won the two tangible categories, intangibles don't count as a tiebreaker.

Thus, we went with Soto over Pierzysnki. If you value Pierzynski's intangibles over Soto's offense and defense, that's a perfectly fine argument to make. Maybe that is the case. It's hard to know that, though it's an argument both of us can accept.

So that's our rebuttal to this SotoPierzynski debate. Feel free to drop either of us a line on twitter @TonyAndracki23 or @JJStankevitz and we can elaborate further, or post in the comments below and we'll get back to you.

And check back with us next week for our all-decade team for the 1990s!

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

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