Steve Pearce finally had a breakout night at the plate for the Blue Jays, clubbing two home runs and adding two other hits against the New York Yankees on Tuesday.
The Blue Jays made several moves this offseason, and one of the under-the-radar moves was bringing in first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce on an affordable 2 year, 12.5 million dollar deal. Pearce had been a valuable contributor for the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays in recent seasons, and the Jays hoped he could do even better with regular at bats.
So far to start the 2017 campaign, Pearce has been living a nightmare since the move to his third AL East club. Entering Tuesday night’s game, he was sporting a .167/.211/.167 slash line with no home runs and just one RBI over 54 at bats. To say that he’s been a disappointment thus far would be a gross understatement.
That said, the 34 year old showed Blue Jays fans a few of the reasons that the front office had interest in him, finally finding his stroke at the plate against the Yankees. He was able to collect 4 hits in as many at bats, including 2 home runs, his first and second of the season. While he’ll never contend for the AL home run race, it was nice to see Pearce get on the board and provide some power from the left field position.
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Pearce dealt with a variety of injury issues last year, but was a solid contributor when he was healthy. Over just 302 at bats, he managed a slash line of .288/.374/.492 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI. If you’re glancing at a team stat sheet you could be forgiven for missing the full picture. Granted it’s not this easy, but you could basically double those stats if Pearce were to be healthy over the course of a full season of starts. That slash line with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, and positional flexibility makes for a valuable piece.
The Blue Jays were hoping that they’d found themselves an underrated bargain, and the possibility certainly exists. He’s only had 58 at bats in total after all, and if Tuesday night’s performance is any indication, then hopefully we’re on the cusp of a hot streak from the 11 year veteran.
The scary part was how lost he had looked at the plate prior to Tuesday, having already struck out 17 times in those 54 at bats. The fact that he found his stroke against a starter of the calibre of Masahiro Tanaka can’t hurt either, and will hopefully get the veteran back to where he needs to be in the confidence department.
In a post-game interview, manager John Gibbons stated it simply, “Pearce-y needed that, he’s too good of a hitter”. Well put, skipper, well put.
When you’re on the cusp of 2000 career plate appearances, a slump shouldn’t last forever, and hopefully his best performance as a Blue Jay was exactly what he needed to right the ship.
Yes, it was only 1 game, but this was honestly the first time that Pearce gave Blue Jays fans something to be excited about, and that’s a step in the right direction to say the least.