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New York YankeesEdit
Rivera was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-draft amateur free agent in 1996 and made his debut in the 2001 season. When he came up to New York in midseason 2002, he showed promise, but only hit a .265 batting average with one home run. Nevertheless, it was enough to warrant Baseball America naming him the #1 prospect in the Yankees organization. His strengths were described as 'above-average raw power', 'crushes fastballs' and had excellent defense. However, in spite of good contact, an impatient hitter and an average runner who would likely get slower with age.
Rivera was sent to Triple-A Columbus in 2002. Rivera was again recalled in 2003, this time to hit seven homers (including a multi-homer game) with 26 RBI. Although he is not known for his speed, Rivera is considered an above average fielder who gets a good jump on the ball, has a strong throwing arm, and is adept at playing the outfield corners: left and right field. Rivera has also spent a good deal of time playing center field.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 2004Edit
On November 19, 2004, he was sent along with shortstop Maicer Izturis to Anaheim in the same trade that brought outfielder José Guillén to the Washington Nationals. In his first season as an Angel, Rivera saw playing time as both an outfielder and a designated hitter. Although he started the season slowly, he stepped up his play in the final months of 2005 and finished with a .271 batting average and a then-career high 15 home runs and 59 RBIs in 106 games.
During the 2006 campaign, Rivera was made an everyday player, either starting at left field or serving as the designated hitter when veteran Garret Anderson played left. He finished the season with his best statistical year yet, batting .310 with 23 home runs and 85 RBI.
While playing for Oriente in Venezuela's winter ball, Rivera broke his leg sliding for first and was placed on the disabled list by the Angels. This injury kept him out for most of the 2007 season, with the exception of a brief appearance for 14 games in September.
On December 19, 2008, Juan Rivera re-signed with the Angels for three years worth $12.75 million through 2011.
Rivera had a good hitting season, especially in the months of May to July. He hit 25 home runs, batted for an average of .287, and had an on-base plus slugging of .810. However, in contrast to the rest of the team, his baserunning was generally poor. Noted baseball analyst Bill James rated him the worst baserunner in the MLB in his annual book, because of his overagressive tactics including being thrown out 8 times on attempts at going from first to third, costing his team an estimated 40 runs.
Rivera got 2010 off to a slow start, batting just .235 over the first two months of the season.
Rivera is distinguished by his high contact rate and low strikeout rate. In 2009, he had the ninth lowest strikeout percentage in the American League, at 10.8%. His career strikeout rate stands at 11.3% through the 2009 season, compared to an MLB average of 18.0%.