With the news that Steve Pearce was going on the disabled list with a hurt finger, the writing is on the wall that perhaps he is finally done as a Pirate. Out of options and deep into arbitration, I don't see how the team would be willing to bring back an injury prone player that does not hit quite enough to play the positions that he fits best at. Myself, I have tired of seeing Steve Pearce, as to me the Pearce that many think they were getting was the once dominant minor league Pearce, instead of the teasing/injury prone one that we have been treated to.
Drafted out of South Carolina as a college senior, a typical Littlefield move, Pearce was sent to Williamsport in 2005. He promptly hit 7 home runs and drove in 52 RBI, while posting a .301/.381/.474 slash line. That is some pretty good production for their first taste of pro ball, even if he was older than you'd like for the level. In 2006, Pearce would go to Hickory then get promoted to Lynchburg during the season. At age 23, Pearce posted 26 home runs and 98 RBI in 131 games. His strikeout rose, his batting average dropped, but his OPS rose. It looked like the power was very intriguing to say the least, but age was still somewhat of a question mark, and the rise in K's was alarming, but not too worrisome.
In 2007 Pearce rocketed through the system like no other prospect had in some time. Starting in Lynchburg, then to Altoona, then to Indianapolis, and finally a September call up, Pearce was all over the place. In 134 minor league games, he hit 31 home runs and drove in 113 RBI. He cut down his K's and posted a great slash line of .333/.394/.622. All solid numbers. In 23 games in Pittsburgh, he would not hit a home run, but would muster 20 hits in only 68 at bats, while playing RF and first base.
In 2008 Pearce would spend 103 games in AAA and 37 games in Pittsburgh. He would hit a total of 16 home runs and drive in 75 RBI, while rising his strikeouts, striking out 20% of the time in Pittsburgh. 2009 saw him spit the season a little more evenly with 77 games at AAA and 60 in Pittsburgh. He would hit 17 home runs and drive in 80 and his plate discipline seemed to return that season, buoyed by his AAA performance.
The past two seasons with injuries plaguing him, Pearce has hit only 7 home runs in two seasons, 6 of them in the minors. He also has driven in only 40 runs in two seasons, with 27 coming in the minors. Add to that fact that he is striking out more than ever, 22% of the time in the majors, well it adds up to him not being invited back next season.
Pearce caught the attention of stats geeks with his rocketing through the system and power at multiple levels. The average fan liked him as he was a 'top prospect' when there really were not any in the system. Despite the great early success, injuries, strikeouts, and perhaps pushing too hard, did in Pearce. Additionally not having a set position in the majors also seemed to hurt. He was always the square peg in the round hole so to speak, adequate at first and perhaps trying too hard anywhere else.
The major league Pearce is what he was. He might have been a AAAA type of hitter with no position, the type of player the Pirates seemingly can grow on trees. Just like some of those players, he had the injury issues as well, helping him not live up to the potential that was apparent to many when he was crushing minor league pitching.