Am I really talkin’ baseball? Now it seems like it all never really happened.
How fickle is the fate of ball players. About a year after being the World Series MVP, Steve Pearce was an unwanted free agent.
You may not even remember Steve Pearce, not even after I just reminded you that he was the MVP of the 2018 World Series. He could do no wrong then, delivering homers and timely hits whenever they were needed. He hit three homers and knocked in eight runs in only 12 at bats. The World Series does occasionally provide some surprise MVPs, but few were more surprising than Pearce, who wandered through seven major league teams in a career in which he averaged only about 170 at bats per season.
So how did he follow up his unexpected moment of glory? Last year he batted .180 with one homer while earning more than six million dollars. His OPS+ was 32, which means he was approximately one-third as productive as an average player, whereupon the Sox made no effort to re-sign him and let him become a free agent. He “unofficially” retired. The Orioles invited him to spring training, presumably because .180 with 1 homer put him at immediate parity with the rest of their line-up. (You may laugh, but five of the Orioles’ regulars had a negative WAR last year, including their starting first baseman, who batted .179 while earning $23 million – and that was an improvement over his previous year! Pearce could have given them similar production at a quarter the cost.) Alas, it did not work out. Even the lowly Orioles could not open a spot for him, and his unofficial retirement became official.