Juan Pierre’s Historic Lack of Power

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:

Rk Player HR PA From To Age
1 Juan Pierre 16 7511 2000 2011 22-33
2 Larry Bowa 15 9109 1970 1985 24-39
3 Don Kessinger 14 8530 1964 1979 21-36
4 Donie Bush 9 8745 1908 1923 20-35
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/3/2012.

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.

Willy Taveras 1420 .050 .298
Juan Pierre 3005 .054 .311
Willie Bloomquist 1428 .073 .298
Emilio Bonifacio 1564 .079 .307
Tony Gwynn 1314 .079 .295
Ichiro Suzuki 3616 .082 .340
Nyjer Morgan 1832 .086 .323
Michael Bourn 2652 .087 .323
Skip Schumaker 2297 .089 .324
Mitch Maier 1028 .094 .306
Ryan Sweeney 1646 .098 .321
Scott Podsednik 1598 .099 .322

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.

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