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Best Athlete

Nobody really seemed to think much of Juan Pierre when the Marlins signed him last offseason. Fast guy, kind of goofy looking, solid hitter, but not someone who would ever, as he might put it in his hyperbolic fashion, shock the world. But in a way, he did, using his dashing speed to help the Marlins win the World Series. He led the league in stolen bases -- but to do that, he had to get on, and he did it in all sorts of ways. Lacing line shots to the gaps, hitting the rare home run (OK, he got one), running out the infield hits. But it was those bunt singles that really made him special, his magical ability to absorb a 93-mph fastball with his bat and make it crawl like a baby down the baseline while he sped to the bag. Out in center, he had a knack for chasing down balls that had triple stamped all over them. Pierre doesn't have the glove talent of an Andruw Jones or a Jim Edmonds, but he makes up for it with speed and will. And he was a key part of the Marlins' magic. Remember the demoralizing 25-8 drubbing by the Red Sox in June? The very next night, the Fish incredibly overcame a 9-2 deficit to take a one-run lead in the ninth. Then, with a man on second, Johnny Damon ripped what looked like a sure game-tying single to center. Pierre charged, dove, and somehow caught the ball two inches off the ground to start a double-play and end the game. Oh, he had four hits, a walk, and two steals in that one too. Run, Juan, run.


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