Pierre a true asset for Dodgers
Speedy outfielder unjustly criticized in time with Los Angeles
Since the Dodgers signed Juan Pierre to a five-year lucrative contract, some Dodgers fans have delighted in criticizing Pierre. Every day I receive an e-mail saying the Dodgers must get rid of Pierre if they want to win. These so-called die-hard Dodgers fans seem to blame Pierre for everything that is wrong with the Dodgers.
I don't understand why they can't see Pierre is an asset to the team. I know general manager Ned Colletti might have overpaid him, but Pierre has given his all to the Dodgers. I want these kind of players on the baseball team that I watch every time. Yes, they might not have the best physical abilities on the field, but they want to do anything to help the team win.
Everyone who watches the Dodgers regularly knows Pierre won't hit a home run. If he does, I will be amazed. Although he does not have power, he gets about 200 hits a season. Most Major Leaguers don't get more than 150 hits a season. Getting hits regularly helps the offense. Since 2001, Pierre has the most hits of any Major Leaguer except Ichiro Suzuki, who probably is going to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Pierre doesn't strike out much. This is unusual for Major Leaguers nowadays. To me, striking out is the worst thing that a baseball player can do, because usually no one needs to do anything to get the out. I know fans will say grounding into a double play is the worst because the team gets two outs. Although getting two outs is awful, the opposition must field the ball cleanly to get the outs. Over my years of watching baseball, I have seen many botched double plays. Speedy players don't hit into as many double plays as slower players.
Pierre has blazing speed, his greatest asset to his team. I know "Moneyball" said that baseball teams shouldn't pay much for players who are fast and can play good defense. I highly disagree with this, especially for the National League. The National League teams don't have as much power as the American League teams. Speed makes things happen offensively and defensively. "Moneyball" was written about the Oakland A's. How many wins in the playoffs and World Series do the A's have in the last 15 years? I don't know, but this means they don't have many. The Dodgers are a different team who play in a different stadium and league. I don't listen to "Moneyball" to find out what the Dodgers should do to go the playoffs and beyond.
In a day and age when most Major Leaguers don't attempt many stolen bases, Pierre has averaged 55 stolen bases a year. Since 2001, Pierre has stolen at least 45 bases a season. Although people don't think stolen bases are that important, I think they are crucial for the success of any team. Besides getting into scoring position without getting another hit or sacrificing an out, a true base stealer can distract the pitcher. I have seen more errors caused by a catcher attempting to throw out a base stealer than on any other play. Although the Dodgers have many speedy runners, Pierre is the only true base stealer with Rafael Furcal on the disabled list. This season, Pierre leads the National League in stolen bases, and this helps a poor Dodgers offense.
Defensively, Pierre has improved over the last year. Pierre had trouble adjusting to Dodger Stadium. Often, he didn't get good jumps on fly balls in center field. As last season went on, he got better. Although he will never have a strong arm, it is not that important if he catches the ball. Many outfielders don't have strong arms and fans don't criticize them.
This season, Pierre has played left field exclusively until Matt Kemp served his suspension. Though he was not excited about the move, Pierre has played an awesome left field. Many times he has made highlight catches. His weak throws don't seem as important as they were in center field.
Pierre is one of the hardest workers in the Major Leagues. During Spring Training, he is the first player in the clubhouse and usually the last one to leave. He views every Spring Training the same way as he did when he wanted to make the team.
Many people complain the Dodgers don't have veteran leadership, but Pierre provides this. He always is ready to play. He doesn't argue with management when it wants him to do something that he doesn't like. He accepts it and tries to do his best. Unlike many professional athletes, Pierre understands that he is a role model for the younger generation. He tries to make friends with his younger teammates.
No matter if the Dodgers are in the middle of a losing or winning streak, Pierre approaches baseball the same way. He usually has a smile on his face. Most people can tell he enjoys playing baseball.
Although Juan Pierre doesn't have the most God-given talent on the Dodgers, he gets the most out of what he has. I would rather have nine Juan Pierres on the team than nine players who have more talent, but don't care how the team does.
Sarah D. Morris is the editor of Sarah's Dodger Place. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.