2004 Marlins Outfield Preview: Center Field

CF Juan Pierre had big shoes to fill going into 2003. Former CF Preston Wilson was not only a key offensive producer but a fan favorite. Juan not only filled those shoes but he re-defined the franchise and spearheaded the Championship drive. Marlins Insider gives you a recap of Pierre's amazing 2003 season, a full scouting report, and what to expect from JP in 2004.

Juan Pierre
Vital Stats:
DOB: August 14, 1977
Birth Place:Mobile, Alabama
Height: 6'0 Weight: 180
Bats: Left Throws: Left

2003 Recap:
Juan Pierre was acquired as part of a three team deal that sent former CF and fan favorite Preston Wilson to the Colorado Rockies. Many at that time criticized the trade in that Wilson was the Marlins best run producer and it was wondered how the Marlins could replace his offensive power production. Pierre however quickly established himself as a replacement that would surpass Wilson's production on the team, not through power but through speed. Juan took over the lead-off spot in the order from incumbent Luis Castillo in the second week of the season and never gave it back. In the process he re-defined the Florida Marlins franchise with his work ethic, determination, and style of play.

Pierre is not only the sparkplug of the Marlins lineup but he is also the key determinant of their success. In games where Pierre reached base at least once the Marlins played just over .500 ball. In games where Pierre got on base twice or more in a game, the Marlins won at almost a .750 rate.

Fortunately for the Marlins, Pierre got on base a lot in 2003. Juan tied for 5th in the majors with 204 hits and once he got on base he made things happen by leading the majors in stolen bases with 65.

A statistical review of Pierre's 2003 shows that not only did he have an amazing overall season. But what is even more impressive is that his statistics are extremely consistent from month to month. Juan never really suffered through a prolonged slump. He just came to the park everyday ready to play and did his job.

Juan Pierre's importance to the Marlins team can not be calculated by pure statistics alone. Juan is the silent leader of the team and he leads by example. He is the first player to arrive at the park everyday, usually arriving around 7 am to take batting practice and drills. At the end of the night he is also the last to leave getting in extra work and immediately reviewing that night's performance. This kind of effort and determination has spread throughout the team and now the whole team takes their conditioning and preparation seriously and the determination has resulted in the never say die attitude that brought the Marlins countless dramatic comeback wins down the stretch as well as in the post-season.

For his overall effect on the team both on the field and off, Juan Pierre was named the team's MVP for the 2003 season.

2003 Statistics:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2003

Florida

.305

668

100

1

41

28

7

65

55

35



Player Analysis

Batting:
Juan Pierre's offensive approach is straight from that of a long-past era. Pierre is a classic "small ball" player. Which means that he does not attack with power in mind, his role is to get on base with his speed and then use his speed to cause havoc and let the heavy hitters bring him home. As prolific a bunter as anyone in the game today, Pierre not only led the National League in bunt singles but also in infield singles overall. Pierre is renowned for his routine of rolling baseballs down the infield foul lines before the game to see exactly how the ball rolls down the line at each park. He has such control with his bunts that he likes to boast that you can lay a hat down anywhere in front of the plate and he can bunt the ball directly into the hat.

Because Juan knows he has no real power he doesn't try to do anything with the ball that he knows he can't. Instead, Pierre tries to slap the ball around, mostly to the opposite field. JP is a very good contact hitter so he rarely strikes out and he keeps the ball on the ground which puts pressure on the defense to make the play while having to keep in mind Pierre's great speed.

On the down side, Pierre's on-base percentage is not as high as what most teams would like from their lead-off hitter. The reason for this is that Pierre is an aggressive swinger, he doesn't take too many pitches thus his walk totals are low. That doesn't mean that he is undisciplined, as the truth is quite the contrary. Juan will not swing at bad pitches, but he also doesn't try to take pitches and work the count. Juan was last in the Marlins everyday player in pitches seen per plate appearances with only 3.44 per AB. This is not the usual approach of a prototypical leadoff hitter but Pierre adjusts well to pitches and aggressively takes what the pitcher gives.

Pitchers who have over-powering fastballs can have success against Pierre by busting him in on the hands with hard stuff as his inside out swing usually can't get around in time. Once off-balance pitchers can then have continued success against Pierre by working him on the outside with more hard stuff.

Base Running and Speed:
Pierre is one of the fastest players in the majors being timed at 3.6 down the first base line. But to steal 65 bases in a season it takes a lot more than just pure speed. It takes a strong knowledge of the pitchers and knowing the right situations to make your attempt. Being such an astute student of the game and taking the time to watch video tapes of pitcher's pick-off moves, Pierre maximizes his speed and is one of the most efficient base stealers in the game. He was successful in 65 of his 85 attempts in 2003.

Over the off-season Pierre not only worked out in Chris Carter's world renowned FAST Camp to better improve his speed but he also learned from watching videos of his base stealing that he wasn't taking a direct line approach to the bag. He noticed that he was taking a slightly arched approach into the bag thus slowing his attempt. Juan will consciously work on improving this and he feels that it will improve his overall success rate.

Juan Pierre is not only a constant threat once he gets on base because not only is he one of the fastest players in the game but he is also one of the smartest. He rarely makes mistakes on the base paths. All in all, there is probably not a better overall base runner in the game today.

Defense:
Pierre speed is his greatest asset in the field, especially when having to patrol one of the largest outfields in the National League in Pro Player Stadium. In terms of range and the ability to track down balls, Pierre is one of the best in the game. His throwing arm however is below average but he compensates for this well through good positioning and attacking of the ball.

Overall:
As already stated, Pierre was the MVP of the team in 2003. He has the desire to continue to get better and has a tireless work ethic. Juan can again be relied upon to be the leader of the Marlins in 2004 and possibly improve on his stellar 2003 campaign.

2004 Projections:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2004

Florida

.311

635

103

1

40

29

8

56

58

38




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