Fact: Juan Pierre has an .804 OPS since June 26.
For Pierre, power isn't all too important. You know what you're getting into with 34-year-old -- nobody expects him to hit multiple home runs in a season, let alone have a slugging percentage north of .350. It's all about on-base percentage and stolen bases for Pierre.
And, in those two categories, Pierre hasn't hurt the White Sox since late June. Believe it or not, he's helped them. Significantly.
Pierre's been successful on 10 of 14 stolen base attempts, which still represents a sharp downturn from his career norms. But he's not hurting the White Sox on the basepaths like he was earlier in the season.
Where Pierre has been most effective, though, has been in getting himself on base. Since June 26, Pierre has a .389 OBP, pulling his season mark away from the abyss to .339 -- only two points lower than his quite-solid OBP of 2010.
That June 26 date isn't arbitrary. After going 0-6 with a walk in the White Sox's June 24 extra-inning loss to Washington, Pierre was benched for the following game. When he returned to the lineup that Sunday, he sported a .248/.310/.289 slash line in 337 plate appearances.
The week following his benching went well for Pierre, who had 11 hits and two walks in 34 plate appearances. He had back-to-back-to-back AAU National Championships game-winning RBIs June 30-July 2, which I still found a way to spin negatively.
Unfortunately, there's not much Pierre can do save a torrid second half that'll convince me he belongs on a White Sox team that's All In. The best thing he could do? Invent a time machine and play better in the first three months of the season.
But there's not much hope regarding Pierre. He's had just one above-average offensive season since leaving Florida five years ago, that being in 2009 with the Dodgers. Pierre's numbers that season were indicative of a flash-in-the-pan season, with nearly all his stats in line with his career average except for BABIP.
-- Pierre's three good games could hurt the Sox in the long run, July 4, 2011
I can't say I regret my skepticism, because Pierre's track record certainly warranted it. But Pierre hasn't used a flux capacitor -- to the best of my knowledge -- to get his OBP back to an acceptable level. He's played well enough, at a level I certainly didn't expect, to get back to this point.
Of course, three weeks into Pierre's turnaround, I didn't think it was sustainable. His BABIP has regressed to .379 since June 24 -- still high, but not ridiculously high for a speedster.
The level of production Pierre has realized in the last month and a half isn't something that should be expected for the rest of the season, though. A .389 OBP is great, but one around .340 is more likely based on his White Sox averages.
And that's fine. A .340 OBP is more than fine, actually, as offense continues to take steps backward across baseball. If Pierre finishes out the final month and a half of the season with a .340 OBP, he'll hardly be a detriment to the White Sox.
Juan Pierre belongs on the White Sox. That's a sentence I never though I would type six weeks ago.