07/04/2004 7:45 PM ET
Pierre up for fans' Final Vote
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
|Juan Pierre spends long hours working on his bunting skills. (Victor Baldizon/Getty Images)
MIAMI -- How Juan Pierre goes often dictates how the Marlins go. So much of the Marlins' high-speed offense centers on their hard-working center fielder.
On pace to collect more than 200 hits for the second straight season, Pierre has a shot at reaching his first All-Star Game. But he will need the help of the fans to make it to Houston for the Midsummer Classic, being held at Minute Maid Park on July 13.
Pierre is one of five players on the fans' Internet ballot that determines the 32nd and final player on the National League squad. In addition to Pierre, fans have the option of voting for Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Pirates catcher Jason Kendall, Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu and Arizona outfielder Steve Finley.
Now in its third year, the Ameriquest 2004 All-Star Final Vote gives baseball fans around the world the opportunity to select the final position player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday night's Major League All-Star Selection Show and continues until 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The winners will be announced at 9 p.m. ET exclusively on MLB.com and will then be added to the AL and NL All-Star Game rosters.
The fun doesn't end there, however. Fans, having already decided the starters and 32nd man, will have yet another opportunity to make themselves heard with the return of the Ameriquest All-Star Game MVP Vote. Beginning in the sixth inning of the All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 13, fans can cast their vote for the player they believe deserves to win the Ted Williams Award for being the game's Most Valuable Player. The fan vote counts for 20 percent of the decision, with the media accounting for the other 80 percent.
2004 Final Vote
American League winner:
Hideki Matsui, Yankees
(in order of finish):
Frank Thomas, White Sox
Paul Konerko, White Sox
Lew Ford, Twins
Travis Hafner, Indians
National League winner:
Bobby Abreu, Phillies
(in order of finish):
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
Steve Finley, D-Backs
Jason Kendall, Pirates
Juan Pierre, Marlins
"If I get on there, it would be an honor," said Pierre, who doesn't feel he's having a great year. "It would be better if I felt I played up to my standard. It's cool to at least be mentioned. It's one of those things that's special."
The speedy Pierre is third in the National League in stolen bases. A year ago he topped the big leagues with 65 steals and scored a team-high 100 runs.
Pierre is the catalyst of the defending World Series' champions attack.
Four Marlins have been selected for the All-Star Game: Carl Pavano, Mike Lowell, Armando Benitez and Miguel Cabrera.
Pavano feels that Pierre is also deserving.
"That would be great to get Pierre," he said. "I don't think anybody deserves it better than him. It would be nice to see."
Not known for his power, Pierre has already matched his season high of two home runs, last done in 2001, when he was with the Rockies.
Pierre, who had just one homer a year ago, collected an inside-the-parker in a win over the Tigers at Comerica Park. He cleared the wall with his second shot.
With a .295 average and 42 runs scored, the humble Pierre doesn't feel he is having a great year.
"I know I haven't had the year I'd like to have, so I'm not thinking about [the All-Star Game]," he said. "I'm happy for Mikey Lowell and Miguel. That's the first time for him. Miggie has had an awesome year with the numbers he's put up. Whatever happens with me happens. I'm not too much concerned with it."
A leader in the clubhouse, Pierre is the hardest worker on the team. He is the first to arrive at the ballpark each day, often to perfect the finer points of his high-paced game.
Pierre spends hours working on bunting and slap hitting. On the road, to get acquainted with ballparks, he arrives especially early to determine the slopes for bunting. He also tests the outfield walls, checking possible bounces and caroms.
It was Pierre who coined the Marlins' catchphrase "shock the world" in the 2003 playoffs.
The players picked up on his phrase and, indeed, the Marlins did, upsetting the Yankees in the World Series.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.