Juan Pierre Is Not Hot

As you’ve no doubt heard, Manny Ramirez is hanging out in Triple-A, getting ready to return to the Dodgers after serving his 50 game suspension. Ramirez’s return will certainly give the Dodgers offense a boost, but it has also caused some consternation among some who believe that Juan Pierre has played well enough in Manny’s absence that he should keep playing regularly.

And it’s true, Pierre’s performed admirably well – his .327/.384/.424 line while playing quality defense in left field adds up +1.5 WAR in 240 plate appearances, or about a +3.75 win pace over a full season. If he played that well all the time, he’d actually be worth his contract.

But, of course, Pierre doesn’t play that well with any kind of consistency. And he hasn’t sustained that kind of pace this year, either. Here’s his 2009 season, broken into two chunks.

April 8 – May 28: 133 PA, .407/.470/.542
May 29 – June 24: 107 PA, .232/.276/.283

The first half of Pierre’s season, he hit like a Hall of Fame candidate. In addition to his usual batch of singles, he had 13 extra base hits and drew more walks (12) than strikeouts (10). It was a tremendous stretch of hitting for anyone, much less a guy with a checkered track record like Pierre.

The more recent chunk, however, is more what we’re used to seeing from the guy. No power, few walks (just four, compared with 10 strikeouts), and the ball has stopped finding holes. For the last month, he’s been a sinkhole, making outs in bunches and doing little to nothing to help the Dodgers win.

He’s neither as good as his first 133 PA or as bad as his recent 107, of course. However, based on his full body of work, no one would seriously suggest that Pierre should play ahead of Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier. Instead, the argument for Pierre staying in the line-up rests on the theory of “the hot hand”. The problem, of course, is that Pierre hasn’t been “hot” for a month now. Why should the Dodgers play Pierre in July because he hit well in May? Even if you believe in the hot hand, June’s performance requires you to admit that Pierre doesn’t have it anymore.

Pierre is what he is – a +1 win player with good speed and range, a terrible arm, no power, and a horrible contract. He’s not the worst fourth outfielder in the world, but despite his remarkably good run earlier this year, he doesn’t belong in the starting line-up for any team trying to win. Especially one with Ramirez/Kemp/Ethier.

Back to bench, Juan. It’s where you belong.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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CH
Guest
CH

“no one would seriously suggest that Pierre should play ahead of Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier.”

Steve Phillips did exactly that on Sunday night. He suggested that Ethier should be benched, and Pierre should take over in CF while Kemp plays RF.

Combine that with Joe Morgan’s assertion that David Wright is the NL MVP this year, and you’ve got America’s Premier Broadcast Team.

Michael
Guest

ESPN’s baseball broadcast group is terrible. The only baseball people in their entire baseball coverage team that I listen to are Law and Neyer, and they’re the Internet guys. Over the last year, I’ve gone from looking forward to Baseball Tonight to dreading John Kruk and Eric Young’s…analysis, loosely put.

But enough bashing. I’ve recently gotten into an argument with someone who wanted the Marlins to trade for JP and replace Cody Ross in center. It was impossible, as JP’s numbers all looked better than Ross’s at the time, even after the prolonged slump. But he said Pierre was a better center fielder because he’s faster. Don’t mind his arm out there or anything.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Or the crazy routes he takes to balls.

Brian L.
Guest
Brian L.

If Steve Phillips says something, you assume the opposite is correct or the more rational statement.

Gee
Guest
Gee

How was that guy a GM for a major league baseball team?