Juan Podsednik, or Scott Pierre, or something like that. These two guys are quite similar–both lefty/lefty’s and around the same height and weight. They are around the same age at 34 and 35, have career slash lines in the same ballpark, and even are close in average amount of stolen bases per 162 games. At this point in their careers, both of them should play slightly below average defense. Even more, they both have World Series Rings with other clubs. One of these guys will be the 25th man on the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Juan Pierre has the household name, and is a newcomer to the organization, which could mean added pressure to succeed. So far this Spring, he has five hits in twenty at-bats (.250 AVG), with three walks to go along with just one stolen base in three tries. He’s struck out three times and has yet to record an extra base hit.
On the other side, Scott Podsednik has eight hits in 26 at-bats (.308 AVG), two walks to go with four strikeouts, but has a perfect stolen base rate, as he is three-for-three. He also has three doubles.
At this point, Pods looks to be in the lead on paper–his .308/.379/.423 to Pierre’s .250/.348/.250–but it’s still a close race. If the remainder of Spring Training is anything like the first few weeks, the competition could come right down to the last few games. Regardless though, both of these guys bring very similar skill sets. It is almost a toss-up of who is playing best right now, for who is best suited for the final spot on the roster, rather than who is historically better.
Personally, I’d like to see Pierre make the roster over Pods for one simple reason: He doesn’t strike out. Like, ever. Over his career, Pierre has struck out measly 5.7% of the time, compared to Podsednik’s 14.4%. This means that Pierre puts the ball in play a lot, which is a far more effective than a strikeout, even if it is a weak ground ball to second base.
For 2012, Pierre is projected by various predictors and experts to have anywhere between a 5.9% and 7.1% (average of 6.73%) strikeout rate, which would be the lowest of any Phillies hitter (minimum 100 PA) since Placido Polanco in 2005. In other words, the Phillies haven’t had a guy as good as Pierre at putting the ball in play since pre-Scott-Rolen-trade-Polanco. They could use one.
As a bench player, nothing is more defeating to the club than to come into the batters box as a pinch hitter only turn around and walk back after a strike out. A game event like that has a negative effect on the entire team’s mentality, especially in the late innings. Pierre wouldn’t be the go-to pinch hitter in a tight situation, but when he does come in, his ability to put the ball in play will be beneficial.
You could argue that Podsednik’s ability to hit for extra bases more often negates Pierre’s edge in strikeout rate, and it’d be a valid argument, but I think the Phillies could really use Pierre more than they could use Pods. So for that one stat alone, the one that separates these two players the most, I would want Pierre as my last guy on the bench. Plus he has one of the most peculiar first name-last name combinations in baseball.
Who do you guys want to win the Pierre vs. Podsednik battle?