2012 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: Juan Pierre

Juan Pierre was a valuable commodity at the plate and on the bases this year.

In a season of endless disappointment, one of the highlights for the Phillies was the play of wily veteran Juan Pierre.

As spring training wrapped up, there was some doubt about whether Pierre would even make the team. It came down to the 35-year old lefty or Scott Podsednik, two seasoned players battling for one final roster spot as the team’s fifth outfielder. In the end, Manuel and Co. elected to go with Pierre and the move paid off in dividends, not just because of Pierre’s play, but because Scotty Pods became little more than a footnote for Boston later in the season after being dealt by the Phils.

Pierre–often a point of contention between traditionalists and sabers–on the other hand, gave the Phillies far more than they ever could’ve hoped for from a guy who wasn’t expected to have a major impact on the team. The impact he would have was felt almost immediately.

Through April he posted a .318/.357/.348 triple slash line. From there, he was the model of consistency, posting at least a .290 batting average in every month but August (.240). With John Mayberry, Jr. and Ty Wigginton struggling–the other left field options–Pierre played himself into a role where he was Manuel’s go-to guy. He wasn’t an everyday player, but he was about as close as you could get for a platoon player.

As the year went on, fans began to look to Pierre with his speed and ability to get on base as a viable lead-off man over the much maligned Jimmy Rollins. While Pierre never really ascended to that role, the fact that there was an argument for him is a testament to what he was able to provide the Phillies lineup. While his more advanced statistics paint a picture of an invaluable player throughout his career, he was worth every bit of the $800K the Phillies paid him in 2012 and much more. How much more, you ask? According to fangraphs, his play this season was worth about $7.5M.

His final numbers are very respectable: .307/.351/.371 with 59 runs scored and 37 stolen bases in 130 games (105 starts). More impressive? He was only caught stealing seven times, which is the lowest total Pierre’s ever posted in a full season, and he struck out just 27 times, which is the lowest strikeout total on the 2012 roster for a player with at least 350 ABs. His 1.7 WAR on fangraphs was better than expected for a player originally thought to be the replacement.

Really, the only gripes anyone could have with Pierre is his lack of power hitting (he had just 17 extra base hits) and his fielding, which is subpar (particularly his arm). But if you were expecting a ton of power from him, you probably should reevaluate your expectations.

Towards the end of the season, as his playing time diminished, he didn’t make a scene. Instead, he could be seen in the dugout, talking to younger players like Domonic Brown about the game, trying to mentor them. He was the consummate professional.

Juan Pierre’s 2012 grade: B I think a B is a fair grade for Pierre. He wasn’t a superstar, but he was above average, especially when considering the expectations for him going into the season. Alas, it seems it was a one-time trip for Pierre in Philadelphia. The Phillies are in need of impact bats in the outfield, and they’re already committed to John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Nate Schierholtz for next year. With Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf also in contention for a roster spot, and the Phillies expected to sign or trade for at least one more outfielder (and more than likely two), it seems there won’t be any room for JP Beast Mode. Farewell, Juan. We hardly knew ye.

Read the rest of the 2012 Phillies Player Reviews here.

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    October 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Juan Pierre exceeded all expectations. He batted over .300 and was one of the leaders in stolen bases despite being a part-time player. Always a tough our, Pierre was also the consummate professional, never complaining and always cheering his fellow teammates on. Overall, a solid example of professionalism and a solid value. I would let Lance Nix go, and give Pierre a raise. Despite not hitting home runs, Pierre is always ready and able to step in and contribute. Frankly, because he exceeded all expectations, I would give him an A-. He was that good, in my book.

  2. Cs

    October 18, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Nix and Mayberry need to be DFA’ed if they have no trade value. Pierre is a keeper and your silly if you let him go.

  3. Lefty

    October 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Not many Phillies exceeded expectations last year. Juan was a real delight in a down year. Whatever direction the team decides to go, I wish him the best.

    • brooks

      October 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      I would hope that they keep Pierre. Seems a good compliment for some decent bats around him. He advances runners, gets on base, and is fast.
      I like him all around. Need to concentrate on replacing Mayberry and (fill in the blank).

  4. bacardipr

    October 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I agree with Bart 100%. Since the start many posters on here and other blogs where talking their usual Ca-Ca. Towards the end he won over most of the naysayers.

  5. schmenkman

    October 18, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Pierre was a very nice surprise and I echo what others have said about his professionalism and his role as a mentor.

    But I’ll add that statistically, there was really not much difference between Pierre and Nix. Pierre played a lot more, 439 plate appearances vs. just 127 for Nix, but for the time that they were actually on the field, while they provided value in different ways, overall they were very similar.

    At the plate: whether you look at the more mainstream OPS, or a more advanced metric like wOBA, they were nearly identical overall. Pierre got on base more, but Nix had more power:

    Pierre: .307/.351/.371, (.722 OPS), .320 wOBA
    Nix: ….. .246/.315/.412 (.727 OPS), .317 wOBA

    Pierre was obviously the better baserunner, and in fact had one of his best years, including a career high SB%. But Nix played better defense. He is a pretty good outfielder and still has played more innings in CF for his career than any other position. The defensive stats can vary with small samples, but they weren’t out of character for either player, and one could argue that Nix’s defensive advantage largely offset Pierre’s advantage on the bases.

    One clear advantage for Pierre is that Nix is mostly helpless vs. lefties, while Pierre has hit them very well in recent years (although this year he struggled vs. LHPs in a small sample).

  6. bacardipr

    October 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Might be true Schekamn. Though in the advanced metrics zobilee zoo formulas. Does it show which player provided better value for the $$$. Lol I like Nix though i think that injury hampered his season. As well unless im forgetting Pierre remained injury free.

    • schmenkman

      October 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Certainly right — Pierre stayed healthy, so he provided more value for the money.

    • George

      October 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm

      Pierre was better value for the money, but that was this year. After his plus season, he probably won’t be playing for such a small salary in 2013.

  7. DCmikey

    October 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I agree w Bart, Lefty and whoever else said how much Pierre exceeded expectations!!

    a B!!! B!!!!

    Are u absolutely friggin kidding me….for $800,000.0…..an A!! An absolute A

  8. DavidE

    October 19, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Made some very exciting plays. Remember his scoring on a wild pitch aganst Baltimore. That was great. However, I think the Phillies are looking to give Ruf a shot at the left field job next year and I can’t disagree with that. If Pierre was a better defensive player, maybe they would keep him. But the teams really took advantage of his lack of a strong throwng arm and this cost the Phillies some runs.

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