In a surprising turn of events, Juan Pierre figures to be a semi-regular part of the Phillies’ lineup this year. His reputation as a gritty gamer and a spring in which he hit .373 have led to this, despite posting an unbecoming .657 OPS in each of the last two seasons.
Pierre has been around a while. Many Phillies fans remember the days in the early 2000’s when he and Luis Castillo terrorized the Phillies from atop the Florida Marlins’ batting order with drag bunts and stolen bases galore. One item notably missing from Pierre’s arsenal? Power.
Pierre has 16 career home runs in 7,511 plate appearances. He is only one of four players to hit so few home runs in so many plate appearances:
He hit two homers in 2011 alone, the most he has hit in one season since he hit three in 2006. I did some research to make sure those home runs did, in fact, happen.
June 3, 2011 vs. Detroit
August 16, 2011 vs. Cleveland
Since 2007, Pierre’s .054 isolated power in 3,005 PA is the second-lowest among all Major League outfielders, a whopping 19 points behind noted masher Willie Bloomquist and trailed only by Willy Taveras (.050), who fizzled out of baseball following the 2009 season.
Ichiro is the only player in the list with a wOBA notably higher than the league average. Behind him, the next-best hitter is Skip Schumaker at .324. That represents the most optimistic, the absolute ceiling for the 34-year-old Pierre in 2012. All of the projections have him between .295 and .305. Put another way, Pierre’s most recent performances in 2010 and ’11 merited offensive WAR marks (per Baseball Reference) of 0.0 and 0.1, respectively. That means if Pierre is going to contribute to this team, it will be with his legs and with his glove, not his bat.