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The season that was: Steve Pearce

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A look at Pearce's 2017 season.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

We signed Steve Pearce, last December, to a 2-year contract for $12.5 million.

Pearce, like many of our players, was a ‘late bloomer’. He never had a season with 10 home runs until age 31.

We signed him December 5th, last year. At the time, I said:

I would think the plan is to platoon him at first with Justin Smoak, until they decide Smoak isn’t going to hit again and then he’ll be more or less full time at first. That’s my guess.

He’s better vs LHP, .852 career OPS vs lefties, but not awful vs RHP, career .728.

Considering Smoak hit lefties much better than righties this year, we are lucky that didn’t happen.

We were, on the whole, happy about the signing:

The bottom answer was for me.

                                                                         
Year   Age  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
2017    34 92 313 38 79 17  1 13  37  0  0 27 68 .252 .319 .438 .757   96

Baseball Reference had him at a 0 WAR, as did FanGraphs.

He had a .323 wOBA and a 99 wRC+.

Compared to 2016, Steve walked less (7.8%, from 11.3) and struck out more (19.5%, from 17.9).

He had more line drives (21.4%, up from 19.0), ground balls down (43.1%, 40.7) and fly balls were exactly the same rate (37.9%). Fewer of his flies left the park (13.8% down from 16.3).

His hard contact rate was the same (34.7%, 34.6 last year).

His BABIP was much lower (.281, down from .318).

In a reverse from his norm, he hit right-handers (.270/.329/.438) better than leaft-handers (.207/.293/.437).

He hit better on the road (.269/.303/.418) than at home (.233/.303/.418).

With RISP, Pearce hit .222/.297/.460. With bases loaded, he hit .300/.273/1.000, with 12 RBI in 11 PA. You’ll likely remember his 2 game winning grand slams.

His first half (.259/.320/.430) and second half (.247/.318/.444) were much the same.

Pearce by month:

  • April: .167/.211/.167 with no home runs in 17 games.
  • May: .276/.333/.759 with 4 home runs in 10 games.
  • June: .500/.552/.731 with 1 home run in 9 games.
  • July: .239/.306/.443 with 5 home runs in 25 games.
  • August: .258/.346/.462 with 3 home runs in 25 games.
  • September: .174/.208/.217 with no home runs in 6 games.

Defensively? He played 637 innings in the outfield. He had a -12.4 UZR/150. He made just 2 errors and he had 2 assists. Yeah he was pretty terrible.

He played 55 innings at first base.

Steve was -1.0 runs as a base runner. He’s not exactly fast.

His longest hitting streak was 8 games. Longest on base streak was 15 games. The longest he went without a home run was 17 games.

His favorite team to face? He his .438/.571/.938 with 2 home runs, in 5 games against the White Sox.

Least favorite? He was 0 for 9 against the Twins.

He played 83 games in LF, 7 games at first, 2 at DH and he pinch hit 9 times.

Steve started games all over the lineup:

  • 1st: 11 games.
  • 2nd: 3 games.
  • 4th: 6 games.
  • 5th: 20 games.
  • 6th: 23 games.
  • 7th: 16 games.
  • 8th: 4 games.

You know it’s been a poor season when the guy that you thought was your best left fielder finishes with a 0 WAR.

Pearce had his moments, the two game winning grand slams, in 3 days, stand out. That was pretty amazing. Outside of that, he was a perfectly average hitter.

I was amused when people suggested that he should play second base. I always wondered if they watched him play left. When you can’t play left, I really don’t want to see you try the middle infield. We’d be far better off with him playing DH, but that could be said about a few players on the team.

He turns 35 in April. I don’t know how well he’ll age. His defense isn’t great. It’s not likely to get better. And his offense was about league average. But, we only have him one more season, it could work out.

I don’t know what the plan is, he should be in a fourth outfielder/sometimes first baseman, sometimes DH, sometimes pinch hitter role, but that would mean we’d need to find an outfielder or two.