Juan Pierre #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a game winning walk-off infield single during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on August 12, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 8-7. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
It's award season in the MLB, so now is as good a time as ever to recognize the very best players on the 2012 Phillies. Despite being an underwhelming season due to injuries and some lousy performances, there was still a lot to love about this year's club.
We already covered the team MVP and Cy Young, but today I want to talk about the most surprising player of the 2012 team; one who proved themselves to be valuable despite coming in with little to no expectations.
When Juan Pierre was signed before, it was viewed as a move to provide the team with minor league depth, and to be a “break in case of emergency” player who would only be called upon if the team ran of out viable outfielders or some help off the bench. But after a solid spring, it was announced that Juan Pierre would not only make the Opening Day roster, but would also factor in heavily to the team's lineups on a day-to-day basis.
It wasn't the worst thing in the world, given that Pierre was nearly a career .300 hitter with good speed, but with the Phillies lacking power up and down the lineup, how much could be possibly help?
The answer, as it turns out, was quite a bit. Pierre was given a fair bit of playing time in the early goings, and was, more often than not, the starting left fielder – despite having a noodle arm and poor range. And despite a lack of power, Pierre made up for it with a solid .361 OBP and a .324 batting average over the first two months of the season.
He wasn't a superstar slugger, and he wasn't an electric offensive weapon, but he did his job, and he was one of the few players in 2012 that we couldn't complain about. His numbers weren't MVP-level, and he didn't pack the punch of a typical left fielder (he finished the year with a slugging percentage of .371 and hit only one home run), but the 34-year-old managed to perform much better than anyone could have imagined.
And thanks to that performance with the Phillies, Pierre earned himself a job next season with the Miami Marlins, who signed the veteran outfielder to a one-year contract worth $1.6MM.