With Steve Pearce signing a one-year. $6.25 million contract with Boston early in the off-season for the 2019 season, will Pearce be better or worse for the 2019 Red Sox?
Steve Pearce with the 2018 Blue Jays
Pearce got a late start to the 2018 season with Toronto. But when he finally did take the field, he got into 26 games and hit .291/.349/.519 with 4 home runs and 16 runs batted in. These are numbers that resembled his 2016 outburst with the Tampa Bay Rays and his previous career year with Baltimore in 2014. When the Red Sox came calling looking for depth in late June, they were only happy to take the prospect Espinal who was having a strong season in the minors for the Sox.
Steve Pearce with the 2018 Red Sox
No one really expected Pearce to perform even better for the Red Sox, raking to a .279/.394/.507 while mostly playing first base and designated hitter. He hit 7 home runs and had 26 runs batted in 50 games. His defense wasn’t the best, but he’s never been known for his glove.
Steve Pearce enjoyed the playoffs even more. Against the Yankees, he enjoyed a .333 batting average with 2 walks in 14 plate appearances. Against the Astros, he hit only .214, but added three walks, a double, and a home run. Then, the World Series was his best series yet, exploding for 3 home runs, 8 RBI, 4 walks, and a .333 batting average. That performed earned him the 2018 World Series MVP award.
Steve Pearce 2019 Projections?
The Steamer projection system listed at Fangraphs calls for a .266/.344/.468 batting line in 79 games. That would make him worth 1.1 WAR, which is about what he produced with the Sox in 2018. If that’s the case, he would be well worth that $6.25 million contract in 2019.
Pearce is considerably better against left-handed pitching than right-handed pitching. He’s the perfect compliment to left-handed hitting first baseman Mitch Moreland for Boston. Pearce hit .265/.359/.469 against righties and a whopping .304/.400/.559 against lefties in 2018. Those splits aren’t that dissimilar to his career, although his batting line against righties was better than normal.
Steve Pearce should continue to be a strong role player for the Red Sox against left-handed pitching. If he carries over his improved on-base percentage from Boston in 2018, he could be even more valuable than the projection. He’s not really a candidate for a fantasy baseball team, but in real life, he could prove to be quite valuable.