In Defense of Juan Rivera

I'll put this out here right now:  this is mainly a devil's advocate piece and I am disappointed with the man's clutch hitting as of late.  

That said, I think there has been alot of unnecessary hostility towards the man of late.  It seems easy to suggest that the guy is "riding off of one hot month", since that one month was such an incredible standout, and so were the Angels during that stretch.  I grant you that he does ground into his fair share of rally killing double plays.  However, this man NEVER put the title of "the missing big bat" upon himself.  He never told anyone that he was the answer to the team's offensive problems.  That was bestowed upon him by pundits and fans like ourselves.  A quick glance at his splits tells you that fears of him being supposedly "unclutch" are just not true:

RISP: .333
Post AS Break: .322
RISP/2-out: .333
On 3rd/Less than 2 outs: .467
In close/late games: .286
Behind in the count: .301

Pretty much every single situation the guy CAN be clutch in, he HAS been clutch in.  I realize how easy it is to lynch a man when he is easily identified is one of the most hatable people on an otherwise sedate, fan-friendly team.  I realize that it's ESPECIALLY aggrevating that we have suffered all year with poor offensive performances, and it's easy to blame the man who some thought would save us.  And when you hit into double plays that kill rallies down the stretch (which, admittedly, was a stretch in which we were PROBABLY already out of the race anyway), it makes you even easier.  However, there is no precipitous drop-off in any of those numbers heading into September either.  His total average for the month (.278) is a limited sample size and STILL doesn't justify the hatred.  He did EXCEEDINGLY well in July, so it seemed that we perhaps set the bar too high and expected too much.  But his 25-RBI July was followed by a 20-RBI August.  By the end of August, we found ourselves in such an immensely deep hole, and our inability to find a way out of it was not on his shoulders.  I can get the hatred for the attitude and personality, which perhaps makes him an easier target for us all when he does hit into that double play.  Blame him if you must, with unfounded accusations that he helped put us out of the pennant race with his play (which we know is not true), but he is also the one who gave us the July that put us back INTO a pennant race that seemed so far out of reach on June 30th.  The man won us games with his bat AND his arm.  Perhaps in time he will become more patient with the bat and more sane in the head, but our falling out of the postseason isn't half as much his fault as so many of the bulletins and comments on this blog would have us believe.

This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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