CHICAGO -- A.J. Pierzynski has turned in high-quality efforts with the bat numerous times prior to the 2012 season.
But none of them were award-winning.
Pierzynski's breakout power numbers from this past campaign just might have been the tipping point for the talented left-handed hitter, as he captured the Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award for American League catchers, beating out other forces such as Joe Mauer and Matt Wieters.
The free-agent backstop joins Carlton Fisk (1981, '85, '88) as the only catchers in White Sox history to take home such an honor. Alexei Ramirez was the last White Sox player to win a Silver Slugger, receiving the award for AL shortstops in 2010.
Over 135 games this past season, the career .284 hitter posted a .278 average with a career-high 27 homers and 77 RBIs. Pierzynski's previous high for homers came at 18 in 2005 and he matched his 77 RBIs posted with the Giants in 2004.
Those 27 homers were the second-highest total in White Sox history by a catcher, trailing only Fisk's total of 37 in 1985. Pierzynski also set career highs in runs scored (68), slugging percentage (.501) and OPS (.827).
This particular award for the best offensive performers at every position is voted on by managers and coaches. Nonetheless, Pierzynski did the job behind the plate by catching at least 1,000 innings for the 11th consecutive season and extending the longest active streak in baseball, while catching 100-plus games for the 12th straight season that ties for the fourth-longest streak in Major League history.
Only Colorado's Wilin Rosario (28) had more homers than Pierzynski among Major League catchers. Pierzynski ranked fifth overall at the position in OPS and fifth in RBIs, while also tying a franchise mark by homering in five straight games from July 30-Aug. 5.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.