Juan Pierre may not be a household name in a lot of baseball circles, but his recent retirement after 14 years in the majors has revealed a career that may be one of the most unique in MLB history.
For the record, Pierre was a career .295 hitter playing for six teams. His speed set him apart; he stole 614 bases, 18th most in MLB history.
But his appearances at the plate made him a rarity: Of the 247 players who compiled 2,000 or more hits in their careers (Pierre is one of them with 2,217), Pierre had the third fewest number of home runs with 18. Only Clyde Milan with 17 and Larry Bowa with 15 had fewer home runs of those players with 2,000-plus career hits. His 367 career extra base hits are the third fewest of those players with 2,000-plus hits; only Milan with 262 and Maury Wills with 268 had fewer extra base hits among those players in the 2,000-hit club.
Let’s take a look deeper into those numbers. First, Pierre holds the season record for most hits in a season with three or less extra base hits. In 2000, his first year in the bigs with the Colorado Rockies, Pierre had 62 hits but only two of them were for extra bases. Here’s a look at the 12 players in MLB history that had 45 or more hits in a season with three or less extra base hits.
Player, Year, Team, Hits (Extra Base Hits)
Juan Pierre, 2000, Colorado, 62 (2)
Jim Davenport,1968, San Francisco, 61 (3)
Enzo Hernandez, 1973, San Diego, 55 (3)
Jose Tartabull, 1967, Boston, 55 (3)
Brett Butler, 1982, Atlanta, 52 (2)
Brock Davis, 1972, Milwaukee, 49 (2)
Willie Bloomquist, 2008, Seattle, 46 (1)
Ted Kubiak, 1974, Oakland, 46 (3)
Tony Eusebio, 1997, Houston, 45 (3)
Alan Trammell, 1996, Detroit, 45 (3)
Julio Cruz, 1986, Chicago White Sox, 45 (2)
Jerry Adair, 1968, Boston, 45 (3)
Secondly, in 2007, Pierre fell just four hits short of becoming the third player in MLB history to have 200 or more hits in a season without hitting a home run. Pierre had 196 hits for the year as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had 24 doubles and eight triples that season. The two players in baseball history with 200+ hits and no home runs? Nap Lajoie did it in 1906 with 214 hits and Johnny Pesky did it in 1947 when he had 207 hits and no HRs. Pierre also had another year with 100+ hits and no homers: he had 117 hits in 2009 with no home runs.
One final note: Pierre retires as one of only 12 players in history to have over 2,000 hits and over 600 stolen bases.
A very unique career!
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp
Earlier this week the New York Yankees signed Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year contract worth $153 million. Several media outlets and baseball pundits questioned whether or not it was a good move on the part of the Yankees. Many questioned either the length or value of the contract, while others opined that Ellsbury was just not the type of player that deserved that type of free-agent contract.
In defense of Ellsbury, he played a major role in the Red Sox winning the championship last year. He led the majors with 52 stolen bases and batted .298 while playing a solid center field. He has stolen 50 or more base in three of his seven seasons. But his speed on the basepaths was a bone of contention for some people who see Ellsbury as too one-dimensional of a player.
Maybe, however, the Yankees decision was a simple response to a need that has plagued the team for almost 25 years.
As mentioned above, Ellsbury led the majors last season with 52 stolen bases. He was the only player to steal 50 or more last season. Do you know the last Yankees player to steal 50 or more bases in a season? It happened in 1988. Rickey Henderson stole 93 in that season, the last time the Yanks had a player reach the 50-steal mark in a season.
Here’s a look at the last time each of the major league teams had a player who stole 50 or more bases in a season.
American League teams
1988: New York Yankees (Rickey Henderson, 93)
1995: Texas (Otis Nixon, 50)
1996: Kansas City (Tom Goodwin, 66)
1997: Minnesota (Chuck Knoblauch, 62)
1998: Cleveland (Kenny Lofton, 54)
1998: Toronto (Shannon Stewart, 51)
2001: Detroit (Roger Cedeno, 55)
2001: Seattle (Ichiro Suzuki, 56)
2006: L.A. Angels (Chone Figgins, 52)
2007: Baltimore (Brian Roberts, 50)
2009: Tampa Bay (Carl Crawford, 60)
2010: Chicago White Sox (Juan Pierre, 68)
2010: Houston (Michael Bourne, 52)
2010: Oakland (Rajai Davis, 50)
2013: Boston (Jacoby Ellsbury, 52)
National League teams
1985: Philadelphia (Juan Samuel, 53)
1987: San Diego (Tony Gwynn, 56)
1990: San Francisco (Brett Butler, 51)
1991: Atlanta (Otis Nixon, 72)
1993: Washington (Marquis Grissom, 53)
1997: Cincinnati (Deion Sanders, 56)
1997: St. Louis (Delino DeShields, 55)
1998: Pittsburgh (Tony Womack, 58)
2004: Milwaukee (Scott Podsednik, 70)
2006: Chicago Cubs (Juan Pierre, 58)
2007: Arizona (Eric Byrnes, 50)
2007: Los Angeles Dodgers (Juan Pierre, 64)
2007: Miami (Hanley Ramirez, 51)
2008: Colorado (Willy Taveras, 68)
2008: New York Mets (Jose Reyes, 56)
* Note: Did you notice that one player, Juan Pierre, is the last player to steal 50 or more bases for three different teams (Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs and L.A. Dodgers), and Otis Nixon is the last player to steal 50-plus bases for two teams (Texas and Atlanta).
Will a full season of Ellsbury stealing bases lead the Yankees to a World Championship? We’ll have a few months to see how well this free agent signing plays out. No doubt the Bronx Bombers are hoping Ellsbury’s stolen base skill will be a catalyst in that journey back to the World Series.
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp