Blue Jays: Good, Bad, and Ugly- Steve Pearce
Jays Journal takes a look back at 2017, and the good, bad, and the ugly of each individual performance from the roster. We move on to Steve Pearce, who had an injury filled first season with the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays signed Steve Pearce to a two year, 12.5 million dollar deal during last year’s offseason, and he was expected to split time between first base and left field in Toronto. With the emergence of Justin Smoak as the every day first baseman, Pearce spent the majority of his time in left field.
He showed plenty of flashes of offensive spark, and also became just the third player in MLB history to hit two walk off grand slams in the same season, and the first to every do it inside a week. One could argue that the second home run in particular was one of the biggest highlights of the season for a struggling Blue Jays team.
Pearce had a slash line of of .252/.319/.438 in 313 at bats, and also managed to hit 13 home runs and 37 RBI on the season. As mentioned above, he provided a pretty significant offensive spark when he was healthy, and his bat made up for his below average defence in the outfield.
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Oddly enough he hit much better against right-handed pitching in 2017, posting a .270 mark against same side pitching. His overall performance was good enough for a 0.6 oWAR, and assuming the Blue Jays don’t make any trades in the offseason, I think it’s fair to expect him to return to left field in 2018.
As mentioned, things didn’t go exactly according to plan for Pearce, as he ended up on the disabled list multiple times throughout the year, and only ended up playing in 92 games in total. He was still recovering from a forearm injury as the team entered spring training, and it took awhile for him to find his groove as the season got underway.
He was also an imperfect fit for left field, but that was a good problem to have for the Blue Jays, as Smoak’s emergence forced him out there on a more full-time basis. Unfortunately, his defence leaves a little to be desired, as he finished a -0.9 dWAR on the season. Had he been playing first base as he likely expected, that number would have been an improvement.
Oddly enough as well, he hit just .207 against left-handed pitching over the course of 99 plate appearances. It’s a smaller sample size to be sure, but a strange stat from the right-handed hitter, who has hit lefties well throughout his career.
For Pearce, the disappointments were mostly surrounding his injuries. As mentioned above, he entered the season still dealing with the lingering effects of his forearm injury, and also dealt with calf and back injuries throughout the year. He’ll be 35 in April, and he may be best suited for the part-time role he’s mostly played throughout his career, especially if he breaks down again in 2018.
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The Blue Jays will hope he can stay healthier in 2018, and help flank Kevin Pillar in the outfield at Rogers Centre. With one year and 6.25 million remaining on his contract, he’s a pretty decent bargain if he can stay healthy, and hopefully he’ll be able to do just that.