Orioles DH and left fielder Steve Pearce continues to prove that he deserves to be in the lineup everyday with stellar offensive performances. Today, Pearce earned his fifth consecutive start as manager Buck Showalter looks to keep his bat scorching against the Yankees at 2 p.m.
After seeing sporadic playing time in the first month of the season, Pearce has seen more and more of the field as the Orioles have plugged him in for struggling or injured players. After an earlier stint in May replacing the injured Chris Davis, Pearce has most recently been the beneficiary of David Lough’s underperformance in left field.
This week, Pearce has split his time between left field and DH and slotted nicely into the two hole, softening the blow of regular number-two hitter Manny Machado’s struggles. In the second spot this year, Machado is batting .226 with an on-base percentage of .278.
Over the last four games, Pearce is batting .500 with two home runs and seven RBI. Pearce has an RBI in all of those games, knocking in two in three out of four of them.
“He’s done a good job for us, especially in that two-hole,” Showalter told MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli. “Trying to ride that a little bit. He’s been solid.”
Overall, Pearce leads the Orioles in batting average (.333) and on-base percentage (.387), and is second only behind slugger Nelson Cruz in slugging percentage (.579) and OPS (.966).
With his career-high six home runs, Pearce is also fourth on the Orioles in that category despite seeing less than half as many at-bats as many of his teammates. Pearce attributes his recent power surge to work he’s been doing with Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley and a more closed-off batting stance.
“I feel like I have more pop,” said Pearce. “I’m seeing the ball longer and it feels comfortable.”
For the 31-year-old Pearce, this season is a tremendous opportunity to establish himself as a regular major league player. Pearce has never played more the 61 major league games in one season. So far in 2014, he has appeared in 36.
Often times, baseball fans make a big deal about the extra motivation players have while playing for their next contract. Right now, Pearce isn’t only playing for his next contract, Pearce is playing for his next several contracts and the millions of dollars that will come with them.
Right now, he is signed to a one-year, $700,000 contract. If he continues to shine, Pearce will be viewed as a valuable everyday player worthy of a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal in 2015 and beyond.