Pearce Makes the Case for More Playing Time
By Scott Cahoon
May 29, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce (28) is congratulated after scoring a run during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Pearce really wants a more stable situation in the major leagues.
Now at age 31, Pearce has bounced between the majors and minors in four organizations, never seeing more than 188 major league plate appearances. But this season with the Orioles is shaping up to be one of the best of his career, and could finally establish Pearce as an everyday major league player.
In 80 plate appearances so far this season, he has slashed .293/.338/.520 with four home runs and 12 RBI, despite seeing sporadic playing time at first base, DH, and left field. With David Lough struggling at the plate, Pearce could be in-line to see his opportunity in left field more often for Baltimore. Pearce could bring offensive stability to the position and may not be a liability on defense. He received a rare start in left yesterday and had a nice diving catch yesterday in support of Chris Tillman’s 6.2 inning effort.
Meanwhile, Pearce could fulfill the same role that Lough was expected to at the plate: produce against right-handed pitching. Pearce has defied his career averages this season by hitting for a higher average and OPS against right handers than lefties. Against right handers, Pearce has hit .321 with an outstanding OPS of .910. Three of his four home runs have also come off of righty pitching.
Earlier in the year, Pearce filled-in admirably at first base during Chris Davis’ DL stint. He produced then, too. In 12 games at first base this season, Pearce has slashed .318/.375/.591. One thing that Pearce has proven is that no matter where you plug him in, he’s going to bring a professional attitude and hit.
If the cards break his way and Pearce is used more consistently throughout the rest of this season, next season, Pearce could enter spring training penciled-in to the everyday lineup for the first time in his career.
Pearce has a lot to prove this season, but so far, he’s proven that he deserves to be on a major league roster somewhere. If he continues to hit, it will be hard to keep him out of the lineup and off the radar of other major league teams.
For the time being, the Orioles should milk as much production out of Pearce as they can, letting him see playing time in left field and on first base when Davis needs a day off, and slotting him as DH on days when Nelson Cruz plays the outfield. If Pearce continues to perform, he may find himself in a starting role, either at left field for the Orioles, or somewhere else for another team in need of his services.
After seven years bouncing between the majors and minors, you know that Pearce knows to take the best opportunity to start he has. Professional hitters are hard to come by, and Pearce maintains his ability to threaten pitchers at the plate while providing versatility.
Pearce is well on the way to proving he deserves more playing time, the only question is where and when. Here’s hoping it’s with the Orioles.