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Baltimore Orioles 2013 in review: Steve Pearce

A look at Pearce's 2013 season, and what the future might hold for 2014

Yeah, it's better when he doesn't put on a glove.
Yeah, it's better when he doesn't put on a glove.
Rob Carr

After starting 2012 with the Orioles, Steve Pearce bounced among three major-league teams during the season. And after the season ended, the Orioles grabbed him right back off of waivers from the Yankees. Pearce snagged one of the last Orioles roster spots out of spring training after a monster performance in the Grapefruit League, and although he stuck on the major league roster all year, he battled through two separate DL stints for wrist tendinitis. When he was healthy, he did well what he does well (namely, hitting lefties), but with the late-season emergence of Danny Valencia, Pearce's future as an Oriole looks murky at best.

Let's start with the positives from Pearce's 2013 campaign. Although his overall offensive numbers aren't eye-popping (.261/.362/.420, 4 HR in 138 PAs), they're solid enough, and they're much more noteworthy against lefties (.267/.375/.427, 2 HR in 88 PAs), which is really all that he should be batting against anyway. Overall, in his limited playing time (due to a combination of injuries and platooning), Pearce only managed to accumulate 0.5 WAR, according to Baseball Reference's version of the stat.

The negatives of Pearce's season aren't really glaring. He continued to hit righties only marginally well, and his defensive flexibility (1B, LF, RF) and acumen (-0.2 dWAR) left something to be desired for a bench/backup player. Relative to other Orioles, though, Pearce didn't have an obvious flaw as a ballplayer -- his utility is simply limited by his capabilities.

Steve Pearce is under team control in 2014, which will be his second year of arbitration. If he remains with the team, he might get a slight raise through that process, but the real threat to Steve Pearce is Danny Valencia. The players are two peas in a pod, lefty-mashers best deployed as platoon DHs. And Valencia mashed lefties a lot harder for the last couple months of 2013, and can be deployed at a much more valuable position (3B) in a pinch.

Steve Pearce will almost certainly hit spring training with the Orioles in 2014, barring some unforeseen roster moves during the offseason. But if he's going to break camp with the club, it will probably be because the Orioles fail to re-sign Nate McLouth, or locate another suitable left field option, in which case Pearce could conceivably compete with or supplement Nolan Reimold for the everyday job.

Steve Pearce didn't have a bad 2013 by any means, but he's starting to pick up the "journeyman" label. Maybe he'll have a stray season where he looks like he might stick as an everyday player. But really, as a 30-year-old platoon bat, he doesn't figure to be a core part of the Orioles' 2014 plans.