Juan Pierre is too old and bad at getting on base to steal this many bases. But he's doing it anyway.
On a Miami team that’s going to stand out on leaderboards for all the wrong reasons, Juan Pierre finished the weekend with 11 stolen bases, one ahead of Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte for the NL lead. The story of a 35-year-old with a .280 on-base percentage who might lead the league in steals isn’t bringing fans to the ballpark, but it is one of the most interesting stories on a Marlins team without many of them.
It’s been 12 years and six address changes since Pierre won his first stolen base crown. He was then a member of the Rockies, a team on which you wouldn’t expect to find a top basestealer, given the ease of hitting home runs in pre-humidor Coors.
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The Marlins follow up the salary-dump trade with a Juan Pierre signing. What each move tells us about the franchise.
Last season the Phillies found themselves choosing between Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik for the last spot on the bench. For this I made fun of them. Picking between two old guys whose careers were pretty much over is like choosing between getting kicked in the junk or punched in the neck. Neither is desirable and in fact you’re better off without both. The Phillies, in their infinite wisdom, chose Pierre, and exiled Podsednik to Elbathe Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs Elba.
The funny part was that Podsednik did nothing in Triple-A and was essentially given to the Red Sox, where he suddenly remembered (learned?) how to hit. Pierre had been slated for the back of the Phillies bench, but due to injures, he ended up with over 400 plate appearances wherein he somehow managed the respectable batting line of .307/.351/.371. So much for making fun of them.
Who are the weakest humans in Major League Baseball? If we can't figure that out, we don't deserve to be here.
For lots of obvious and good reasons, we don't spend a lot of time talking about weak hitters. I don't mean bad hitters, because we actually do spend a lot of time talking about them ("Who's the worst everyday player in baseball?" is a common question, for instance). I mean weak hitters—guys who have an ability to put the bat on the ball but are completely incapable (or unwilling?) of doing so with any force, of causing the ball to travel at extreme velocities, of making a crowd, even a very inexperienced crowd, rise to its feet as it perceives the possibility of a home run.
Before we get deep into it, I want to give full credit to my sources, so I'll tell you about the genesis of this topic: this weekend, I listened to Sam Miller and Riley Breckenridge discuss how well they thought Sam would hit in adult-league baseball against low-80s heat and guys with no breaking stuff, which led to the question of how well reasonably athletic but really not terribly talented adults would do in the major leagues (one hit in 20? 30? 100?), which itself led to the question of which players in baseball have the least upper-body strength. I was along for the ride, as my brain tends to operate on a glacial scale, making me something less than a scintillating conversationalist, but then I got to thinking about weakness.
Plenty of well-documented rumors came to nothing last week, and Derek looks at what the lack of activity means for your team.
I’ve spent the last week and a half breaking down thefantasyramifications of every deal that was made at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, but lost in this shuffle were the players who figured to benefit from (or be hurt by) a trade that never happened. Today, I’m going to shine some light on a few of these guys.
If Emilio Bonifacio can't hit for power, why are pitchers walking him so often?
On Wednesday, Albert PujolsEmilio Bonifacio finally got his first extra-base hit of the season. It was his 138th plate appearance, which is fortunate, in that it kept him from matching Juan Pierre (144 plate appearances, 2010) for the longest such streak to start a season during this century.
Reporter: Did you know you just matched a record set by Pierre?
Bonifacio: Wow! Awesome!
Bonifacio: Oh, Juan Pierre?
Bonifacio: Oh ok
Bonifacio: This is a trick, right?
Bonifacio: Juan Pierre.
It happens every spring: we talk way too much about reserve outfielders.
Just before spring training ended, an email arrived from two friends of mine. They’re both Philadelphia Phillies fans. As you are likely aware, the Phillies have the greatest starting pitching staff in the history of ever, but they aren’t without problems elsewhere. Ryan Howard’s recovery from a ruptured Achilles and Chase Utley’s on-going knee injuries have ripped the heart out of an offense that was once the National League’s best. Their stranglehold on the NL East is now in doubt.
None of that was discussed in the email. Neither was Jonathan Papelbon’s ridiculous contract, or the disintegration of the farm system, or the aging nucleus, or even Charlie Manuel, possibly the funniest manager in baseball history. Nope, none of that.
Looking ahead to baseball's most significant personal achievements.
Something peculiar happened during the most recent National Football League season: four quarterbacks threw for more than 4,900 yards. An unprecedented event given that two quarterbacks had accomplished the feat in 30 years theretofore. The increased reliance on, and perfection of, the forward pass has led to an assault on the record books, akin to the earlier offensive explosion in baseball. There are no rumblings of wrongdoing in football—at least, around these new levels of performance—but then again, there weren’t during the early phases of baseball’s offensive breakout, either. Even heading forward, don’t expect a congressional hearing, or columnists pontificating about lost innocence while urging a nation to grieve and revolt. Because, as one intrepid—and sadly, unremembered—soul put it: nobody cares about football stats.
The inverse is true of baseball statistics. Anyone reading Prospectus is no stranger to numbers, or to the countless reasons why people are attracted to baseball’s numbers. At some point the large, round numbers became in-built measuring sticks. If a player hit 500 home runs over his career he must have been one of the best sluggers in history. A player with 3,000 hits or 300 wins demonstrated the perfect equilibrium between longevity and quality throughout his career. Exceptions existed before science entered the picture, but these rules were simple—and simple sells.
Or why you need to keep Pierre in a Dakota to be named later.
With Manny Ramirez about to return to the Dodgers' lineup, having completed his suspension, there has been much grumbling about the supposed great injustice about to be suffered by Juan Pierre. Despite having done such a fine job substituting for Ramirez, the speedy singles hitter is about to head back to the bench. This is somehow construed to be unjust, but just as was true at the start of the season, the bench is the only appropriate destination for Pierre given an outfield already stocked with Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier.