LOS ANGELES – After 12 years, nine stints at seven different Major League teams, and countless setbacks, MLB journeyman Steve Pearce tonight enjoyed his finest moment – being named the 2018 World Series MVP.
The hard-working, ever-determined, no-frills 35-year-old is as unlikely a World Series MVP as you would ever find, however his story – one of resilience unlike most others – will surely bring a smile to the face of any passionate baseball fan.
Since being drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the eighth round of the 2005 MLB Draft, Pearce has bounced around the Major Leagues looking for an opportunity to prove his worth. Ever versatile and always wanting an opportunity to play, he’s tried his hand in both corner outfield positions, first base, second base, third base, and DH. He’s truly been a Manager’s delight, always putting his team’s needs above his own. Like the kid who turns up to Little League two hours before the game to take some extra cuts, Pearce simply loves playing baseball and would do so upon any opportunity available.
Through frequent injuries, form slumps, and quite frankly, some harsh treatment at times, Pearce has only managed to play 737 of a possible 1,944 regular season games during those 12 big league seasons. He’s only seen postseason action twice – this year and in 2014 with the Baltimore Orioles. He’s been released from a Minor League contract, granted free agency three times, designated for assignment three times, and traded four times. He’s often been the odd man out, falling out of favor when the inevitable roster squeeze comes. The increasingly dysfunctional Orioles organization, which yet again finds itself looking up from below at an American League East rival lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy, had three opportunities to keep him around, however on each occasion managed to make the wrong decision. Tonight, while Pearce hit two home runs (he also hit one last night in Game 4), and played flawless defense at first base, Orioles fans will watch in horror knowing their first current baseman, Chris Davis, owns a .168 batting average and has four seasons left to run on his $161 million contract.
While the Orioles tried and failed three times to get the best out of Pearce, there are other clubs too which let the opportunity slip by. For example, the Florida native had stints with all five teams in the American League East division and it’s only been the Boston Red Sox which has been able to help him fulfill his potential – potential which has been seen for years, yet never truly delivered upon. Perhaps it’s fitting, given he grew up idolizing the Red Sox and dreaming of one day wearing the famous red, white, and blue.
Despite all the setbacks throughout Pearce’s career, he constantly remained as determined as ever. He maintained the positive attitude which often sees him smiling during games and has teammates referring to him as a, “Great dude, great teammate, absolute gamer that loves competing and grinds day in and day out!”. Those words, from former Orioles teammate Kevin Gausman (who is also now enjoying improved levels of success elsewhere, in Atlanta), sum up what many within baseball believe. It really is hard not to love the way Pearce goes about it.
— Kevin Gausman (@KevinGausman) October 29, 2018
As age catches up with Pearce, his future in the game probably won’t be any longer than three or four more years, if that, and he is likely to finish his big league career with a slash line that screams mediocrity more than it does magnificent – somewhere near .255/.335/.445. However tonight, that doesn’t matter for the man dubbed “Late Lightning”. Tonight, he is the most talked about man in baseball and his mantelpiece will soon have sitting proudly upon it a Willie Mays Trophy, forever putting his name alongside true greats of the game including Koufax, Robinson, Clemente, Jackson, Rose, Rivera, Jeter and more. Whatever tomorrow brings, other than a nasty hangover, is unknown, however Pearce’s heroics in the 2018 World Series will never be forgotten.