Well, it’s official – Juan Pierre will be playing center field for the Cubs in 2006. I reported this deal as done back on November 23rd, and I rightfully caught plenty of flak for it. So I immediately dialed up Jim Hendry’s personal line and demanded that he deal two of five possible pitchers for Pierre so that I wouldn’t look bad. Hendry complied, threw in Sergio Mitre, and here we are. (I’m kidding, obviously).
I’ll discuss Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco, and Renyel Pinto in a separate post. For now, I want to take a closer look at Juan Pierre and what he "brings to the table." Cubs fans seem thrilled with this acquisition, so I asked myself, "What exactly does Juan Pierre do well?"
Getting on base
Pierre boasts a .355 career OBP. In 2005, the average NL CF got on base at a .340 clip. So Pierre is a tick above average in that department despite all of the cool drag bunts and slap infield hits. Available CFs who got on base more frequently than 35% of the time last year include Jason Michaels, Kenny Lofton, and Johnny Damon. Brad Wilkerson can be expected to top .355 in 2006, and Milton Bradley will probably come close.
Baserunning and stealing
Well, once Pierre does get on, he’s a terror on the basepaths. Right? In 2005, Pierre was excellent at going from first to third, succeeding 43% of the time (surprisingly, that compares well to the rest of the league). On the other hand, he only succeeded going from second to home 38% of the time, which is a poor mark. It’s a small sample (21 attempts), but Chris Speier might want to consider throwing up the stop sign occasionally when Pierre comes his way.
Oh, but let’s not forget the steals. Man, does this guy steal bases. He’s averaged 52 steals in his five full seasons. Still, Pierre’s career success rate at stealing is just 74%. According to Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus,
"If you’re stealing at less than a 75% success rate, you’re better off never going at all."
Hmmm. So you’re telling me Baker should never attempt a single stolen base with Pierre? Something tells me that’s not going to happen.
Ah, but with his blazing speed, Pierre surely is among the game’s top defenders. Er, not so much. Ever heard of Bill James’s Range Factor? It’s calculated by adding up putouts and assists, multiplying by nine, and dividing by the number of defensive innings played. Here’s how some regular CFs ranked in 2005 in Range Factor.
There’s our man, dead last in the game, well behind several freely available CFs. I could dig up some more defensive metrics to say the same thing; I won’t bore you with those here. He’s not a good fielder.
C’mon now, it’s Juan Pierre. He’s got less power than Neifi Perez.
Oh, that’s it. Juan Pierre shows up to work every day, doesn’t get hurt. I guess that’s worth something. It kind of reminds me of the blowoff classes I had in college where the teacher would make Attendance 10% of your grade.
Am I missing something? Juan Pierre is basically a more expensive Scott Podsednik without the defense. He should probably be a fourth outfielder on most teams. Color me unimpressed by this trade.