The Underrated Juan Pierre?

Everyone who follows REAL baseball hates Juan Pierre because he doesn't walk. Here's a line said by the butter face (and butter body) loving Steve Phillips a few years ago
You know, a lot of people are down on Juan Pierre because of this whole "on base" stat, but the guy hits well and steals bases- and that's a good thing

As dumb of a comment as that was because Phillips was talking about Pierre during an actual game, that comments sums up perfectly Pierre's value for fantasy leagues. And the best of all, because essentially everyone is aware of Pierre's actual value in real life, they perceive that low value for Pierre in fantasy as well. You could easily get Pierre for a dollar in your auction league or in the 20th-plus round in your snake league. And considering the production you're going to be getting from Pierre, he's almost my Elijah Dukes of this year! Almost.

First of all, Pierre's real life situation will benefit his fantasy value. The White Sox traded for Pierre after their awful OF defense and woes from last year. This, along with the fact that the organization has been looking for a "pro typical" lead off man since the days of Scotty Pods in 2005, Pierre will start for the team. Unlike his days as a Dodger, Pierre will get plenty of ABs due to his positive defense and his ability to act like a "pro typical" lead off man.

So what is this pro typical lead off man you ask? A smart GM would say it's a guy who has a high on base and above average speed- ideally with a very good stolen base percentage. Essentially Ichiro Suzuki. Guy like Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramierz, Michael Bourne and even Scott Podsednik and to a lesser extent Jacoby Ellsbury (to a lesser extent because the Red Sox aren't sold on Ellsbury batting first but he fits this mold) are the guys teams want leading off for their club. And Juan Pierre will be this man for the White Sox.

So now that we've established that Pierre will get consistent playing time (although I shouldn't have had to convince you very hard. Oh, and Andruw Jones will not take consistent playing time away from Pierre- at least not from an ABs perspective), it's time for the bulk of my argument: Pierre will get you runs, average, and stolen bases. Maybe even a home run or two because of that HR friendly park known as The Cell.

Sure, some people like DME will tell you that stolen bases are very deep this year. And that's true to an extent that more and more guys (like Ellsbury, Bourne, Rajai Davis, Nyjer Morgan etc) are popping up more than ever. But the thing is you have to draft one of this guys. You will be hard pressed to find a guy like this in waivers (unless an owner in your league is dumb and drops a Nyjer Morgan like guy). Sure, you will be able to find guys like Emilio Bonifacio who can steal you 20+ bases, but you're also stuck with his .250 batting average as well. You can make up things like SB and HR, but you can not make up average stats like batting average (and ERA and WHIP). Just like if you're a straight C student in high school and you get straight A's your first semester senior, you still will have a C average- just now it's probably a C+. Maybe.

You will be very hard pressed to find a guy with a close to .300 batting average AND be a high base stealer for you. You will always be able to get R, RBI, and especially HR off of waivers, but not high SB/ high AVG guys. Sure a guy like a Nyjer Morgan or Rajai Davis will probably appear in waiver this year, but because of the rarity of this position- you better hope you have the #1 waiver priority or enough FAAB money left because these guys don't pop out of waivers like closers do.

Juan Pierre has a career .301 batting average. In the past years, that average has dipped a bit (.308, .283, .293, .292 from '09, '08, '07, and '06 respectively) but that's still pretty good and Pierre hasn't gotten consistent playing time. And boy howdy does this man steal bases. Over the past two years, Pierre has only swiped 30 and 40 bags in 2009 and 2008 respectively. However, he's also gotten the least amount of at bats since his rookie year the past two years. From 2001 to 2007, Pierre has gotten an average of 716.57 at bats per year. But the past two years, his at bats have dropped down to an average of only 415.5. If Pierre had gotten 300 more at bats (and keeping his SB rate constant), he would have had about 70 SB in 2008 and 50 in 2009. Considering Pierre is leading off giving him more ABs and because he should be starting the vast majority of the season, it's very reasonable to assume Pierre could get at least 700 ABs and 50+ swipes next year.

Considering guys with around .300 batting averages and 40+ SB bases are going in about the 12-15 round in most snake leagues, to get Juan Pierre would be a steal for you. No pun intended


David "MVP" Eckstein said...

No guys in waivers?

Try the following 40+ SB guys for 2010:
-Drew Stubbs
-Eric Young Jr.
-Michael Brantley
-Alcides Escobar
-Evereth Cabrera
-Eric Patterson (if he ever comes up to the majors again)
-Justin Maxwell (if he ever cuts down the K rate)

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

still, point well recognized.

I dont see Pierre as the premiere steals guy of the past, however.

My 2010 projection:
.291 BA, 90 R, 40 RBI, 1 HR, 34 SB

Sexy Rexy said...

I'll put a board bet of three guys with a .292+ BA and 40+ steals will come available in waivers (and in our league you took Stubbs so he can't come in waivers unless you drop him). Sure, some will, but I don't think they'll be as good as Pierre will be.

And assuming Pierre gets 700 ABs (which they only thing I see stopping him from getting that is injury), he gets 45+ steals easily.

I also forgot to mention in the post that Ozzie LOVES attempting to steal bases. I couldn't find a SB attempted stat but the ChiSox were like 10th or so last year in SB and I believe 4th in CS- which should equal to about a top 7 or so in SB attempts I would say.

I think he'll hit 3 HRs and steal 50 bags next year. But a .292 avg with 90R and 40 RBI is pretty damn good.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

I too could not find SBA by team, but if you combine SB+CS, the sox were 9th overall (162), barely edging out the Rockies (161) and Astros (157).

But it's nothing like the top teams. 255 for the Rays and 211 for the Angels.

So they do like to steal, but they're middle of the pack in the league in that dept.

Put it on the board? under 45 SB for pierre in 2010

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

also, im fairly confident Young and Escobar can hit for avg. just not sure about the rest...

Sexy Rexy said...

Middle of the pack? Hmmm, I thought them being 9th would put them above average? Oh well, the point is is that the ChiSox are gonna let Pierre run. They let Scotty Pods do it last year so it's not like the team will be like Billy Beane in Moneyball. Even if Pierre steals inefficiently, the team will still let him run (to my dismay)

I'd gladly do the 45 swipes board bet. What do u want to do if Pierre swipes 45? Do you wanna make it 44.5 and I'll take the over?

OK, so you can find two guys in waivers that could hit for avg and steal a lot. That just furthers proves my point that although there's an increase in players who can hit for a high avg AND steal a lot, it's still pretty rare in the realm that is the fantasy baseball universe. Which also makes getting Pierre for so cheap/ late such a great value pick.

Lastly, did you put the hyperlink to your "Are SB Overvalued" post? I like it.

Sexy Rexy said...

DME, your favorite buddies at RotoAuthority rank Pierre as the 18th best OF and think he'll swipe more than 50 bags.

While even I think that's why too high, I think you and I both agree that he's a steal (no pun intended again) in whatever draft you get him in and I think 45 is extremely reasonable (or maybe it was Matthew Berry who said 50?)

Anyways, Buster Olney reported on the fantasy focus podcast that Ozzie and the White Sox are going to allow EVERYBODY to run and attempt to steal bases. Olney reports that the club doesn't care about the "Moneyball" approach and doesn't care about if the team steals efficiently or not, Ozzie is going to let the team steal. This pisses the hell out of my as a White Sox fan but helps to prove my point that Pierre will be extremely valuable next year and will steal 45+ bases.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Well Ozzie's poor management skills clearly outweigh the realities of age and declining speed