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Friday, August 14, 2009

Juan Pierre's Contract Is Not One Of The Worst In Baseball? Could Have Fooled Me.

In an article on his website, Joe Posnanski lists the 11 worst contracts in baseball, a list that includes B.J. Ryan, Vernon Wells, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Silva, Barry Zito, and Jeff Suppan. However, much to my amazement and dismay, one name that does not appear on Posnanski's list is Juan Pierre. Juan Pierre, he of the 5 year, $44 million deal signed in late 2006.

*All Numbers From Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, Yahoo! Sports, and FirstInning.com*

Please, enough with the "he's been so great this year, he saved us when Manny was out". He had a hot May* (29 Games, 11 BB, 12 XBH, 9 SB in 13 attempts, 18 RBI, .369/.435/.504/.940). Most guys who step on the field have a hot month at some point their career. Whoop-di-fucking-do.
*A May in which his BABIP was a ridiculous, unsustainable .410 (Career BABIP of .319).*

He's been better in August (.385/.471/.538/.1009) than he was in June (.264/.319/.309/.628) or July (.268/.286/.317/.603), but he's only had 18 plate appearances in 12 games this month, much too small a sample size to draw any conclusions from.

Pierre's career numbers looks like this. First, his numbers with the Dodgers:

Games: 384
PA: 1467
OBP: .340
SLG: .357
OPS: .698
OPS+: 81
BB: 76
HR: 1
SB %: 78%

Pierre's a poor center fielder, a mediocre left fielder, with no arm no matter where he plays and poor route-running skills. Add in that he's taken away playing time from Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier (not through any fault of his own, as he doesn't put together the lineup, but still) and it's just a further illustration that his hot month does not make up for the negative impact he's had since coming to Los Angeles.

Next, his career numbers:

Games: 1391
PA: 5971
OBP: .348
SLG: .372
OPS: .720
OPS+: 85
BB: 334
HR: 13
SB %: 75%

Pierre is who he is, and he's proud of that, to which I give him credit. He doesn't try to be anything he's not, knows his limitations, and plays to his strengths, all admirable qualities in a person. And I certainly don't blame him for taking that fat contract Ned Colletti and Frank McCourt offered him back in 2006.

Juan, when given the chance to play a full 162, will always be near the major league leaders, if not be the leader himself (2003 & 2006) in outs made. I've always summed up Pierre this way: he hits the highest pop flies and hardest ground balls of anyone in the league. Hell, even that last part is giving JP too much credit.

Looking at Juan objectively, he's a 4th OF who's gotten more of an opportunity to start than I would ever have given him. The media consistently portrays him as a really good player and an asset, while of course using batting average and meaningless nonsense like that to justify his excellence. But really, should we be listening to people like Joe Morgan, who, while probably the greatest second basemen ever and a man who drew walks upon walks, still, to this day, doesn't understand the value of a walk? I think not.


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