The Wild Card
If I told you there was a player out there who could play first base, has never hit above .300 over a season, and has 90 career home runs, you’d want him to be your everyday first baseman, right?
Well…let me explain.
Steve Pearce is a baseball anomaly. While most players play their best baseball in their late 20’s and early 30’s, Pearce is like wine, and only getting better with age. This season, for Toronto and Boston, Pearce slashed .284/.378/.512. Imagine if Pujols averaged that for an entire season, the city of Anaheim would have a parade.
Pearce is a right-handed hitter, which makes platooning tough with Pujols. That is where the wild card factor of this comes into play. Pearce hit .304 against southpaws this season, while his average dipped to .265 against right-handed pitchers.
The dynamic here is between starters and relief pitchers. Pearce’s average skyrocketed against left-handed starting pitchers, but he struggled against righties who started games. This is where the platoon comes in. Against left-handed pitchers, start Pearce. Bring in Pujols off the bench to handle relief pitching, which he has done well in his career. When a right-handed pitcher takes the mound, start Pujols and allow Pearce to sub in if a left-handed reliever comes on.
Pearce showed this year he can both platoon and be an everyday guy if need be. He will not be expensive this offseason, but will likely want to be on a team that is going to contend. Billy Eppler will have to sell him on that. If he can, the Angels could have a platoon option. Best case, they could have an All Star first baseman. Crazier things have happened.