Former Oriole Steve Pearce is a most deserving World Series MVP - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Former Oriole Steve Pearce is a most deserving World Series MVP

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Entering the World Series, it wouldn’t have seemed unlikely that a former Oriole would be named the Most Valuable Player while another struck out to end the Series.

However, it wasn’t Manny Machado who was the World Series MVP. It was Steve Pearce, who hit two home runs in the Boston Red Sox’s Game 5 win, a victory that didn’t become official until Machado swung and missed at a third strike from Chris Sale.

Oriole fans who needed someone to pull for in the World Series should be delighted that Pearce, who had four iterations with the Orioles, gets to experience the ultimate thrill.

Pearce turned the Series in Boston’s direction when he hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 4 and added a three-run double in the ninth inning as the Red Sox came from behind and took a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 9-6 victory.

He hit a two-run home run in the first against Clayton Kershaw, and added a homer in the eighth in Boston’s 5-1 clinching win.

Pearce hit .333 (4-for-12) in the five games. All four of his hits (three home runs and a double) were for extra bases.

The main storyline on the FOX telecasts was that Pearce was one of just six players in major league history to play for all six teams in a division.

For those who know him best, it’s Pearce’s stellar work ethic and his determination to overcome injuries. Some of his injuries may have come because he worked so hard and wouldn’t rest his body.

Pearce, who played in more than 100 games just one time in 12 major league seasons, is an unlikely candidate for Series MVP on a team that features Sale, David Price, J.D. Martinez and likely American League MVP Mookie Betts.

Pearce first came to the Orioles in June 2012 from New York, but was lost on a waiver claim in late July to Houston, which passed him back to the Yankees a month later. Pearce returned to the Orioles for the season’s final series in Tampa Bay, but was ineligible for the postseason.

Pearce, who was limited to 44 games because of tendinitis in his right wrist in 2013, began the next season with the Orioles, was released on April 27, but re-signed two days later.

He was an extremely valuable member of the team that played in the American League Championship Series, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 49 runs while hitting .293 with a .373 on-base percentage, which was by far the highest on the team.

Pearce had a 5.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) average in 2014. That’s higher than Adam Jones has had for any major league season.

An oblique strain limited Pearce to 92 games and a .218 average in 2015, and he signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent.

At the non-waiver trade deadline in 2016, the Orioles brought Pearce back once more in a deal with the Rays, and he hit .217 in 25 games before his season ended in mid-September because of a forearm injury.

Pearce signed with Toronto to start 2017, and the Blue Jays dealt him to the Red Sox on June 28.

His ability to get on base endeared him to manager Alex Cora. Pearce had a .394 OBP in 50 games before Boston began its postseason tear, winning 11 games and losing just three.

At 35, Pearce is once again a free agent, as is Machado who was the lightning rod of the National League Championship Series against Milwaukee. Machado hit just .182 (4-for-22) in his first World Series.

In Game 3, Machado’s hustle was again called into question when he failed to run hard on a ball that he thought was a home run, but instead was just a long single off the left field wall.

Pearce and Machado were friendly in Baltimore, but Pearce was unquestionably more admired for always getting the most out of his ability. In April 2015, with Jonathan Schoop injured, Pearce willingly moved to second base, not making an error in 18 games.

Free-agency begins now, and Machado’s destination will be one of the fall’s big stories. A team that signs him will get a player with much talent, but lots of drama, too. His theatrics in the NLCS and poor play in the World Series against the team he most despises, the Red Sox, will likely damage his market.

Pearce won’t be nearly as sought after, but the team that gets him, and the guess here is that he’ll return to Boston, will get an exceptionally hard worker who’s incredibly popular with his teammates.

He’s one of the lowest-profile players ever to win a World Series MVP, but one of the most deserving, too.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. bigdaddydk

    October 29, 2018 at 8:17 am

    I have always liked Pearce, at least as long as I’ve known of him from his tenure with the Orioles. Low key guy who works hard. Not an everyday player for a contending team, but a really good piece that adds a lot as a bench player. I’m really happy for him. He’s paid his dues and he’s shown his value many times over.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 10:20 am

      Bigdaddy, I am very happy for Steve Pearce, too.

  2. bmorebirds

    October 29, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Way to go Steve Pearce!!! A journeyman, blue-collar type who fit in well at Camden Yard thanks to his hard-nosed play and continual 110% effort. At 35 he’s a little long in the tooth to turn his MVP award into big $$, but he’s made a nice living, extracted the maximum from his talent and had a career series on baseball’s biggest stage . . . maybe he can transition into being the Orioles’ GM since it appears no one has been interviewed thus far. Maybe Pearce can be our GM/manager, since saving money appears to be a high priority these days? I’m just saying . . .

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 10:21 am

      bmorebirds, Pearce certainly fit in well in Baltimore. Good for him.

  3. Bhoffman1

    October 29, 2018 at 9:37 am

    It’s nice watching ex 0’s in the playoffs and series . The two big guys looked terrible Manny and Schoop but it’s great to see Pearce get the MVP. You know Boston has a smaller stadium then Camden yards. The city is not that much bigger in my recollection then Baltimore. Yet Boston has a big market winning attitude and we have a small market losing attitude. Thank god DD and Buck are gone. Will the Angelos sons turn this franchise around. We can only hope but so far lots looks not promising.

    • VaOsFan

      October 29, 2018 at 9:56 am

      …..are you aware that Boston has the largest payroll in baseball? Guess you don’t follow the facts closely. The size of the city and ‘attitude’ has little to do with anything.

      • Rich Dubroff

        October 29, 2018 at 10:19 am

        Va, the Red Sox payroll is large, but the Brewers, Indians, Rockies and Athletics all had payrolls below the Orioles to begin 2018, and they made the playoffs.

        It’s smart use of the payroll.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 10:17 am

      Bhoffman, Fenway Park is smaller than Camden Yards, but ticket prices are much more expensive. The Boston metropolitan area is the 10th largest television market in the country while Baltimore is the 26th largest.

      They are a much bigger market and have much more revenue to spend,, but the Milwaukee Brewers in a market smaller than Baltimore (36th largest) came within a game of the World Series.

      With smart work, it can be done.

    • Bhoffman1

      October 29, 2018 at 8:35 pm

      Rich thanks for the info. If we produced a winner I feel ticket prices could be raised. The way the team was from September of 2017 to October of 2018 if you gave tickets for free why would anyone want to see loss after loss. Good money spent on bad players. I don’t know who was responsible for giving all that money to Davis and if you hear Davis speak he is in denial about having the worst season in the history of MLB. My point is we had the players ,especially pitchers to be a great team but the front office , the manager and the coaches were all responsible for this team collapse. I heard the small market term used to describe Baltimore in that case either move out of the AL East or think and act like a big market club.

  4. willmiranda

    October 29, 2018 at 10:17 am

    First, kudos to Pearce for all the reasons cited. Second, Rich, please don’t use Machado to give a bad name to drama and theater, wonderful arts. English has a perfectly suitable word for some of his behaviors: childish. This is no offense to children, who are not always childish, or to adults who are commendably childlike.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Will, I enjoy drama and theater, too. However, Machado is good for baseball because he makes you watch him. Pearce is good for baseball because he’s an unlikely hero. That’s what’s great about baseball; there’s room for Pearce and Machado, who genuinely like each other.

  5. Orial

    October 29, 2018 at 10:51 am

    First of all kudos and funny(though I’m sure he wasn’t being funny) how Willmiranda tried the politically correct approach about not offending children. Pearce was one of Buck’s favorites if not favorite player. Ironic how one former Oriole with class wins Series MVP while another without class makes a disaster of himself. Well I guess it keeps the O’s relevant even into late October. Ok series is cover so make that front office announcement now–In waiting.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Orial, it made you watch.

    • willmiranda

      October 29, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks for the nod, Orial. Don’t be too sure, though, that I’m as opaque as you suggest. Entertainment, including sports, is fun, even for us spectators. It also throws a playful light on the rest of the world that takes itself oh-so-seriously.

  6. DevoTion

    October 29, 2018 at 10:56 am

    Congratulations Steve Pearce! He has always been a quality guy to have on a team, and As much as he has bounced around he deserves some recognition. I would like to see him back on the O’s to show these young guys hard work pays off eventually

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 11:14 am

      I would think he’d be back with the Red Sox next season, Devo.

  7. Jack Gibbons

    October 29, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Rich, the final image of the 2018 World Series is Machado down on one knee, after another swing-and-miss, as the celebration begins for the Red Sox. Baseball is a humbling game. Pearce knows the struggles of a career as a journeyman and now the joy of being a Series MVP on a world championship team. It seems as though perseverance and hard work has been a hallmark throughout, and perhaps a touch of humility. Machado took on the role of villain in the postseason, and was humbled by the Red Sox. It will be interesting to see what effect it has on him and his status as a free agent.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 11:15 am

      It can’t help his market, Jack.

  8. [email protected]

    October 29, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Congratulations to Steve Pearce for his clutch hitting in the WS and for getting the recognition he deserved with the MVP award. Reminds me of 1983 when Rick Dempsey was MVP in the O’s last series win. We were there for the clinching game 5 win in Philly. Great moments for two deserving, hard working pros!!

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 4:45 pm

      Hopefully, Steve will be as popular in Boston years from now as Rick is in Baltimore.

  9. boss61

    October 29, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    He was not just with the Red Sox, he was not just the World Series MVP (Dempsey was in ’83; Kiko would have been in ’79 – improbable guys can be), but he became their everyday first baseman and number three hitter. Think about it – our Steve Pearce as the #3 hitter for the World Champions. It was nice; Pearce has a tale for his future grandchildren. This alone made me watch a Series I was otherwise unexcited to see.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 29, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Glad you watched, Mark.

  10. deqalt

    October 29, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    I’m happy for Steve. A fitting end to a nightmare season. Former Oriole wins the MVP!!!!! Time to turn the corner please……

  11. BirdsCaps

    October 29, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    I hate the sox, but I was very happy to see pearce win the mvp (had to dust off my pearce bobblehead from ’15). I feared they would shoehorn a big name like Price of Betts into the MVP, but I was happily surprised.

  12. Fdog3

    October 30, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Rich Hill, Manny Machado, Steve Pearce…………….name a lefty a baby and a MVP

  13. GSISDANNO

    October 30, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Really happy for Steve Pearce. He is a grinder and does everything he can when he gets the opportunity. Might be the most unlikely MVP for a World Series champion. The only ones who may have been more unlikely are David Eckstein, Larry Sherry, Don Larsen and Donn Clendenon. Like Clendenon, Pearce wasn’t even with his team at the start of the season.

  14. cowhand214

    October 31, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    I’m very happy for Steve Pearce. It was absolutely a neat storyline as he’d bounced all over to find success in Boston. I liked him when he was with the O’s of course and as I live in Boston I got to see him playing a couple times and Fenway and of course on TV.

    Always nice when the hero is a good guy who got to be the hero through sheer hard work and determination. That’s what we want sports to celebrate. The drama of the big stars is not unenjoyable but neither does it lift my spirits as does a story like Pearce’s. Good for him.

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