By Emily @JaysGirlEmily
Blue Jays from Away
Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
Steve Pearce was signed to a two-year deal with the Blue Jays before this season. He spent 2016 with the Rays and then was traded to the Orioles mid-season. On Opening Day, Pearce made a big impact against his former club, going 3-for-5 with a run scored. He went into a slump after that, however, collecting only six more hits for the duration of April (and none for extra bases). His April slash line was a disappointing .167/.211/.167.
In the first game of May, Pearce seemingly broke out in a big way – he went 4-for-4 in New York, including his first double and his first two home runs of the season. He hit another home run the next day, then went four straight games without getting on base (he walked once in his fifth consecutive hitless game). Pearce began hitting again when the Jays played Seattle (including a double and another home run), but was placed on the disabled list on May 15 with a right calf strain. Thanks to the abbreviated month and his four home runs, Pearce hit .276/.333/.759 for May.
He wasn’t activated from the DL for a month, but Pearce came back swinging in a big way. He had an eight-game hitting streak (including the last three before his injury), which included two three-hit games and another home run. He finished out June hitting .500/.552/.731 over 26 at-bats. July was the second of three months in which he’d strike out 17 times. Pearce’s highest RBI total came in July, namely because of the two walkoff grand slams he hit in the same week. He was the first player in MLB history to do so, and only the third player ever to hit two walkoff grand slams in the same season.
In July, thanks to five home runs, Pearce hit .239/.306/.443. August saw a slight improvement in his numbers, at .258/.346/.462. August was also the month in which he took the most walks (12), and scored the most runs (15). He also hit three home runs, eight doubles and a triple. In September, Pearce only played in six games – leaving the Sept 8 game against the Tigers with back stiffness. He didn’t go on the DL again, but didn’t play for the rest of the season. He only had four hits in September.
Coming into the season, Pearce was expected to split time at first base with Justin Smoak, but Smoak’s breakout year led to Pearce playing most of his games in left field. He spent 637 innings in left, as opposed to 55 at first. Hitting .252/.319/.438 with 13 home runs over the whole season, his walk rate of 7.8% was among the worst of his career. However, his 19.5% strikeout rate was close to his career average.
Pearce is signed for one more year, and will earn $6.25 million. He will be a free agent after the 2018 season.
Regular Season Grades:
Jay Blue: C+
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Visit the Handbook page for more information!