Q: Do you think that Ned Colletti is happy and satisfied about having Juan Pierre in center field for the next 4 1/2 years? Talk about a two-tool player.
— Y. A. Takahashi
A: Yes. I think he's disappointed with Pierre's production so far, but Colletti, like many baseball people, have faith Pierre will turn things around. After all, they're called "averages" for a reason and that reason is because, on average, those are the numbers the player will put up. And there's no reason to think that Pierre — at 29, entering the prime of his career — has suddenly forgotten how to play.
Consider his track record:
--Over the last four years, he's averaged nearly 204 hits a season. Only three National Leaguers have had even one season with as many during that span.
--No National Leaguer has stolen more than the 225 bases Pierre has swiped in the last four full seasons.
--And three times in the last four full seasons he's scored at least 96 runs.
Take a look at the raw numbers so far this season, however, and you're right he's far below average, on pace to score fewer than 90 runs and collect just more than 180 hits. But that's assuming he continues to play as he has, and again, a look at his career numbers suggests that won't happen. Pierre has hit .281 in his career in April, May and June — five points higher than he hit through the first three months of this season. But in July, August and September, he's hit .321. So expect Pierre to get hot soon.
However, in examining the numbers closely there are a couple of troublesome stats. Pierre has already struck out 21 times this season; he's never struck out more than 45 times in any full season. And with 11 walks and three errors, he's on his way to a career lows in those categories too.
Q: Is it just me or does Juan Pierre not swing the bat with any authority? We all know he lacks any power, but it seems he just drops the bat (which appears too heavy for him) through the hitting zone an hopes for bloop singles. You can be singles hitter and still swing with authority.
Also, why are all his bunt attempts down the third base line? What happened to drag bunting for a player with speed?
— Troy Tarchione
A: That's been Pierre's style throughout his career. And, actually, the Dodgers would be better served if he did that more. Through the first third of the season, Pierre swung the bat with too much authority, hitting far too many fly balls. With his speed he's more effective when he slaps at the ball like a softball player and tries to beat out infield grounders.
I realize Ichiro has 20-homer power, but in some ways Pierre's style is similar in that both players are at their best simply putting the ball in play.
As for the bunts, Pierre worked long hours with Maury Wills during spring training trying to improve his bunting technique, but he doesn't seem comfortable drag bunting. His favored method is to either drop the ball down the third-base line if his thinks the third baseman is too deep or to push the ball past the mound and beat the second baseman's throw to first. When he does that regularly, you know he's feeling comfortable. Many players use the bunt to get them out of a slump, but Pierre says his bunting follows the rest of this game and when he's feeling good at the plate he gets better as a bunter too.