Yesterday was obviously quite busy for us, with the Nomar deal coming to a close and all of the reports about Juan Pierre. Before I get into him, I’m happy to report that the Dodger family will have some new members this year, as Nomar and Mia are expecting twins and Jason Repko got married over the weekend (Nomar and Mia were actually there, as were the Tomkos). I talked to Jason the day before the wedding and he was really excited (though admittedly nervous). I have to say that you’d be hard pressed to find a more genuine guy in the Major Leagues and I’m very happy for him and Traci.
As for Pierre, while it seems opinion on the blog is split on him, I’ve got tons of people from around the league telling me (unsolicited) what an incredible guy he is and from my perspective, I hope that we’re able to finalize this thing. A few things I’ve noticed in researching him:
– Led the National League in hits last season with 204 and has finished in the Top 3 in that category while topping the 200-hit plateau in four of the last five seasons. Since 2001, he has registered 1,182 hits, the second-most in baseball behind Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki.
– Has finished first or second in the National League in stolen bases in each of the past six seasons, including a career-high 65 steals in 2003. His 318 thefts since 2001 lead all Major Leaguers and his 325 career swipes rank seventh among all active players.
– Last year, set a career high with 32 doubles and matched his career best with 13 triples for the second consecutive season. Pierre did not commit an error in 384 total chances in center field.
– Has paced the NL in games for the past four seasons, as he has played in 497 consecutive games dating back to 2002, the second-longest streak in the Major Leagues behind Miguel Tejada (918). Over those four seasons, Pierre has also been the hardest player in the league to strike out each year and is the leader in that category among active players, fanning just once every 16.5 at-bats.
– One of the top bunters in the game, Pierre has ranked second in the Majors in bunt hits in each of the past four seasons after leading all of baseball in that category in 2001 and 2002. Since 2001, he has logged 135 bunt hits, 50 more than Alex Sanchez, who ranks second during that period. Pierre also has 72 sacrifice bunts during that span, the second-most in the Major Leagues behind Omar Vizquel.
And here are a few quotes I found from people online:
His baseball coach at the University of South Alabama, Steve Kittrell, recalled an incident about Pierre’s continual desire to work at his game.
"We were in Starkville, Mississippi for a game, and I was letting the guys sleep in one morning because we didn’t play until three o’clock in the afternoon. I went out to get some coffee at 6:30 a.m. When I got back around seven, there was Juan, standing outside his room and swinging a bat. Just dry swinging," Kittrell said. "He was the hardest-working player I ever had at South Alabama.”
Third base coach Rich Donnelly, back when he was with the Rockies, said this:
"He puts 62 bunts in play and beats out like 28," Donnelly said of Pierre. "That’s 28 hits on your average. This guy is a nonstop worker. In 22 years in the big leagues, I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as he does."
Those are some pretty bold statements who have seen a lot of guys come and go during their time. As a person who values hard work above just about any other quality, I’m pretty impressed by the things I’m hearing about Pierre.