Tag: Hunter Pence

Hunter Pence Sparking Even-Year Giants Back to Life

Officially, the San Francisco Giants‘ mascot is Lou Seal—a beer-bellied, semi-aquatic marine mammal in an oversized T-shirt.

In reality, the team’s mascot, spark plug and beating heart is Hunter Andrew Pence.

In Sunday’s 5-3, sweep-sealing win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pence went 1-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a two-RBI double that proved to be the difference.

Scaling back a tad further, Pence is 12 for his last 20 with a home run, four doubles, four RBI and eight runs scored.

Not coincidentally, San Francisco has gone 4-1 over that stretch, righting a ship that was sinking faster than a greased boulder in quicksand.

After finishing an MLB-best 57-33 at the All-Star break, the Giants have gone a dismal 20-32 since. Their recent sweep of the D-backs—owners of the NL’s second-worst record—doesn’t wipe the malaise board clean.

It’s something, however, and they’ll take it.

Sunday’s win, coupled with the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 3-0 loss to the Miami Marlins, moved the Giants (77-65) to within three games of the NL West lead.

They also maintained a 1.5-game cushion for the Senior Circuit’s top wild-card spot, ahead of the New York Mets (76-67) and St. Louis Cardinals (75-67). 

Everything is up in the air with 20 games left, including six between the Giants and Dodgers. But if you’re a San Francisco fan casting about for optimism, fix your gaze squarely on Pence.

Yes, that can be frightening. Pence is an unconventional dude. There’s the springy hair. The wild eyes. The kale munching and the herky-jerk mechanics that seem to defy both the rules of baseball fundamentals and, at times, the laws of physics.

Ultimately, though, Pence is a three-time All-Star with the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies and, finally, the Giants, and a linchpin in San Francisco’s 2012 and 2014 championship runs.

Recall the inspirational postseason sermon he delivered in 2012, which led then-third-base coach Tim Flannery to dub him “the Reverend Hunter Pence,” per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale

He pulled a similar gambit in 2014, and fans and his teammates bought into it.

Anyone can shout. It takes finesse to get people to listen.

Of course, what Pence does between the lines is more important than anything he says in the locker room or into a microphone. Right now, he’s showing signs of going on a tear.

Granted, much of his recent flurry came against a lousy Arizona team at hitter-friendly Chase Field. But he looked like the Pence who has reeled off hot streaks in the past—working counts, punishing mistakes and slashing the ball to all fields.

Forget the June hamstring surgery that cost the 33-year-old seven weeks. Forget the foul ball off the face that left him with a nasty shiner. This is vintage Pence.

Apparently, it’s contagious. The Giants plated 23 runs in three games in the desert. They received contributions from up and down the lineup, with catcher Buster Posey, first baseman Brandon Belt and second baseman Joe Panik, among others, finding their strokes. 

This Giants offense ranks sixth in the NL in runs scored and ninth in OPS. Still, they have capable hitters up and down the lineup. Seven of their position-player regulars have double-digit home runs.

There’s no single stat-stuffing superstar, but there are a lot of guys who can hurt you.

The starting rotation is anchored by October demigod Madison Bumgarner and co-ace Johnny Cueto, with Jeff Samardzija and trade-deadline addition Matt Moore rounding out a solid top four. The bullpen, despite closer Santiago Casilla’s struggles, has valuable pieces such as veterans Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez and hard-throwing Hunter Strickland.

If the Giants can score, in other words, they’re a threat. The prospect of Pence strapping them to his back for the next few weeks in thiswait for iteven year should leave possible playoff opponents fretting.

“You start with the talent and the way he’s swinging the bat,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Pence, per Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area. “But just the energy he brings [is big]. I talk about it so many times, but he brings it every day.”

Pence can’t constantly beat the fire and brimstone drum. But he can light subtle sparks, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News outlined:

Pence knows he cannot go Pentecostal every night. But even amid two of the worst months of baseball in Giants history, his optimism has been impossible to slay. He has done most of his motivational work on a quieter and more individual basis in recent weeks, taking Matt Moore aside in the kitchen or speaking to Eduardo Nunez in the trainer’s room or enthusiastically offering free samples of his latest cold brewed coffee concoction from his enormous thermal mug.

That’s typically idiosyncratic and typically Pence. The question now is can he be a mascot, a spark plug and, more to the point, a three-time champion?


All statistics current as of Sunday and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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Hunter Pence’s Surgery Must Be a Call to Action for Sputtering Giants Offense

Down goes Hunter Pence. Again.

Rest of the San Francisco Giants offense, that’s your cue to get going now.

After playing in only 52 games due to injuries in 2015, Pence has hit a major snag at the 50-game mark of his 2016 season. As reported by Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area, the veteran right fielder needs surgery to repair a torn right hamstring.

The timeline in the air for Pence’s return is eight weeks. But as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, it could be longer:

Considering the circumstances, it wouldn’t be surprising if Pence ends up missing more than eight weeks. The surgery he’s having is to repair a hamstring tendon that was torn clean off the bone when he came up lame while running to first base Wednesday in Atlanta. Good luck reading that without saying, “Ow.”

If there’s a bright side here, it’s that the Giants are arguably better suited to withstand Pence being out for a while than they were in 2015. 

Last year’s Giants had plenty of offense, but the struggles they had with their non-Madison Bumgarner pitchers rendered many of the runs they scored moot. It’s been a different story in 2016. The Giants’ Big Three of Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija has combined for a 2.35 ERA, and their starting rotation as a whole owns a 3.45 ERA that’s good for fifth in Major League Baseball.

The Giants’ much-improved pitching is the reason they are where they are. The club has responded to a slow April with a 22-9 showing since May 1. Their pitching has surrendered only 3.2 runs per game in this span, allowing for a fairly large margin of error.

This being said, Pence’s injury is indeed a threat to make that margin of error significantly smaller.

With a .298/.375/.486 batting line to his name, Pence has been San Francisco’s second-best hitter after Brandon Belt. And because the club’s offense as a whole has only a .734 OPS (eighth in the National League) despite their efforts, Belt is right on the money with his assessment of the situation:

Replacing Pence will indeed be hard. Neither Angel Pagan, who is due back from his own injury before long, nor Gregor Blanco packs a high-upside bat. Mac Williamson hasn’t fared well against major league pitching. Fellow youngster Jarrett Parker could do the trick if he picks up where he left off in an explosive 2015 debut, but that’s asking a lot. 

What the Giants can do, however, is hope to replace Pence in the aggregate.

All the key members of last year’s offense, which ranked in the NL’s top five in both runs and OPS, are back this year. The problem is that too many of them just haven’t gotten rolling yet. Just take a look at where each Giants regular is in OPS+, which adjusts OPS to be on a scale of league average (100):

After star turns in 2015, Matt Duffy and Joe Panik have been below-average hitters in 2016. Denard Span is also in that realm. Brandon Crawford has barely been above-average. And though Buster Posey has been good, he’s well short of his usual production.

These guys are largely responsible for the sputtering nature of the Giants offense this season. They’ve been able to get away with that until now, but Pence’s absence needs to be the call to arms that gets them to snap out of it and live up to their capabilities.

For Duffy and Panik, that means doing something anything to recapture what was working for them in 2015, when they spent the season whacking line drives in every direction. But for the others, it only means they need to keep doing what they’ve been doing recently:

Posey, in particular, could give the Giants a huge boost if he builds on his recent surge. That would mean him turning back into one of the NL’s best all-around hitters and also back into the engine in the middle of Bruce Bochy’s lineup.

“He does make us go,” the skipper said after Posey’s recent two-homer outburst at Coors Field, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “When he goes, it just relaxes everybody.”

If things don’t come together for Posey and the others, the Giants will head into the heart of the summer trade season with some decisions to make. As Jeff Todd highlighted at MLB Trade Rumors, Ryan Braun and Jay Bruce figure to be available. Josh Reddick and/or Colby Rasmus could be as well. There’s also bound to be a selection of solid platoon guys there for the taking.

But for now, the Giants have the time to see if they can solve the Pence problem in-house. Though they don’t have the guys to fill his shoes, they do have enough offensive talent to make everyone forget he’s gone.

All it needs to do is finally show up.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Hunter Pence Injury: Updates on Giants OF’s Hamstring and Return

Hunter Pence‘s injury woes don’t seem to be going away, as the San Francisco Giants outfielder is battling a serious hamstring strain and has been placed on the disabled listIt is unclear when he will be able to return.

Continue for updates. 

Pence Comments on Injury

Friday, June 3

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Pence said, per Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News. “I’ll be back in a flash.”

Latest on Pence’s Recovery Timeline

Friday, June 3

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported the Giants are leaning toward surgery for Pence, which would put him out eight weeks after he tore the hamstring completely off the bone.

Bochy Comments on Pence Injury

Thursday, June 2

“Unfortunately, he did a pretty good job on it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, per Baggarly. “And it’s a shame.”

Pence Has Struggled with Injuries After Long Stretch of Durability

Prior to 2015, Pence had been one of the most durable players in Major League Baseball, playing at least 154 games every season since 2008, including all 162 in 2013 and 2014. 

He started 2015 on the disabled list with a fractured left forearm suffered during a spring training game, forcing him to miss the first five weeks, and only managed to play 52 games as a result of various ailments. 

Things had been going smoothly in 2016 for Pence, who looked like his old self to start the year. He was hitting for average and power and getting on base at a high clip. 

The Giants were able to get by without Pence’s bat in the middle of their lineup for stretches last season. Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford picked up their games, though the lineup lacks depth without Pence in the middle.

San Francisco’s front office did bolster the starting rotation this offseason, signing Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, to try to offset any potential offensive shortcomings. Sitting first in the NL West, the Giants can afford to be without Pence for a bit. But it’s obvious this has become a recurring problem. 

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UNINTERRUPTED: Hunter Pence Is Excited About the Month of April

Hunter Pence is excited about an Opening Day victory and the rest of the month of April.


UNINTERRUPTED is a breakthrough platform that provides athletes an unprecedented forum to provide uncensored, real-time perspectives on the topics they most want to address. UNINTERRUPTED athletes communicate directly with fans, while providing rare behind-the-scenes video content that offers a peek into their lives.

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Hunter Pence Injury: Updates on Giants OF’s Oblique and Return

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence was out of Tuesday’s lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals with a left oblique injury, according to Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News.

Continue for updates.

Pence Getting MRI

Tuesday, Aug. 18

Steward passed along the news, adding if it’s indeed an oblique strain, Pence would likely miss four-to-six weeks of action.

The injury occurred on a swing during last night’s game, per Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle

Pence has been known for his durability in recent years, having played in all 162 games of the regular season in 2013 and 2014. This year has been a bit of a different story, because Pence was hit by a pitch in spring training and broke his left forearm as a result. 

He has only appeared in 52 games in 2015, hitting .275 with nine home runs and 40 RBI.

The three-time All-Star is a pivotal part of San Francisco’s championship nucleus. With a WAR of 3.8 and 3.7 in the last two seasons, respectively, per Baseball-Reference.com, Pence is a key cog who cannot be easily replaced.

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Hunter Pence Injury: Updates on Giants OF’s Wrist and Return

San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence may be headed to the disabled list as he continues to deal with a wrist injury.

Continue for updates.    

Pence Aggravates Wrist

Tuesday, June 9

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reported Pence felt pain when swinging off a tee and may be headed to the disabled list. Pence has been out of the lineup since June 2, so the Giants could put him on the DL retroactive to that date. 

The All-Star has been limited to 18 games this season after suffering a broken left forearm during spring training. While the injury is in the same arm, Pence said his current pain is more muscular than bone-related, per Baggarly:

Pence is hitting .282/.329/.451 with two home runs and 13 RBI this season. The Giants will likely continue using Justin Maxwell as their primary right fielder with Pence out. Maxwell has hit .238/.293/.385 with four home runs and 18 RBI. Gregor Blanco, who has seen increased time in right field of late, will also get a chance for extra plate appearances.

San Francisco has maintained a second-place standing with Pence rarely available, but its run production is sorely lacking without him in the middle of the lineup. Even if it’s only a short DL stint, any more time spent without Pence will only help the Los Angeles Dodgers create more separation.


Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Hunter Pence’s Comeback Providing Big Spark in Giants’ Rebound

“Today, we’re going to pull every fiber of our beings, collectively—I’m going to challenge each and every one of you—every fiber of your being to see yourself as a World Series champion…”Hunter Pence addressing the crowd at AT&T Park after the final regular-season game of 2014.

Speeches don’t win baseball games. They can’t run, hit or catch the ball, and they can’t turn players or teams into something they’re not. But when Hunter Pence speaks, good things generally happen for the San Francisco Giants.

First, there was Pence’s impromptu clubhouse sermon in the 2012 postseason, when the Giants were facing elimination in the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds

Then there were his remarks, excerpted above, which he delivered after San Francisco slipped into October as the second wild card in 2014.

Both times, the Giants wound up winning championships.

Yes, there were other factors. The most recent run, for example, owes more to Madison Bumgarner’s left arm than to Pence’s vocal chords. And a certain catcher by the name of Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey III has had a little something to do with San Francisco’s dynastic run, which includes a trophy in 2010 before Pence arrived in the Bay Area.

But the fiery right fielder with the scraggly beard, jerky mechanics and GIF-ready expressions deserves his share of credit—for what he’s accomplished between the lines, of course, but also for his role as the club’s vocal leader and resident preacher. 

“Hunter’s a little different, there’s no getting around it,” manager Bruce Bochy said last October, per John Schlegel of MLB.com. “He’s inspiring, how he plays, and also in the clubhouse and when he says something, because he says it with such passion.”

This season, San Francisco opened its title defense with Pence on the disabled list. On March 5, an errant fastball thrown by Chicago Cubs prospect Corey Black fractured Pence’s forearm (and initiated one of the classier Twitter exchanges you’ll ever see). Pence wound up missing the rest of spring training and the season’s first 36 contests.

The Giants went 18-18 without him and looked frequently listless on offense. When he came back May 16, the hope was he’d provide a spark.

Instead, he’s been a shot of rocket fuel.

Since Pence rejoined the lineup, San Francisco has gone 8-2. And in this case, correlation most definitely equals causation.

After going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored in the Giants’ 8-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Memorial Day, Pence is hitting .342 with a .390 on-base percentage and nine RBI. In his second game, he launched a laser-beam home run against the Reds.

Needless to say, any concerns about his timing or conditioning after the long layoff have evaporated.

And his torrid output has been contagious. First baseman Brandon Belt in particular has been swinging a hot bat since Pence’s return, as ESPN Stats & Info recently noted:

Just like that, the defending champs are off and running, ready to challenge the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers—whom the Pence-possessing Giants swept in a three-game set May 19-21—for supremacy in the NL West.

“I think everybody’s happy to see him back in the lineup,” Giants pitcher Tim Hudson said, per Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee. “He’s our mascot. He’s a guy that makes things work for us and keeps our mojo going in the dugout.”

A mascot who crushes baseballs, makes crazy faces and can deliver a damn good speech when you need one.


All statistics current as of May 25 and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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Hunter Pence’s Response to Hecklers’ Signs Shows Giants All-Star Is a Good Sport

When a ridiculous amount of criticism—whether in good and harmless fun or something different—is hurled an athlete’s way, it can be used as motivation or just laughed at altogether. Hunter Pence is doing the latter.

The San Francisco Giants outfielder has become the butt of a never-ending joke, first sweeping across visiting ballparks and then spreading to social media. What started with a few signs at a Mets-Giants game on Aug. 3 has snowballed, to say the least.

Here’s video of the signs that started the trend:

Suddenly, the movement took off. Signs saying “Hunter Pence can’t” this or “Hunter Pence likes” that started popping up left and right for the rest of the Giants’ series in the Big Apple. Of course, it didn’t keep him from going 3-for-5 with four RBI the first day the signs appeared.

Once Pence got out of New York to finish the rest of the Giants’ road trip, though, the fun would be all over. Right?

Not quite. By the time San Francisco arrived in Milwaukee for its series with the Brewers, the fans had caught wind of the trend and wanted to have their own fun.

The Brewers’ Twitter account tweeted the best signs:

The move caught on again in Kansas City during the Giants’ subsequent series with the Royals. By that point, national media was all over it, and even the MLB Network chimed in.

After having his parking abilities doubted, affinity for bacon questioned and countless claims of his interest in less-than-stellar activities, Pence couldn’t stay quiet any longer. He had to make some sort of rebuttal. As one of baseball’s more dynamic personalities off the field, Pence guaranteed laughs in the process.

With a strong Twitter presence himself, Pence caught wind of the jokes and masterfully swiped back with a series of properly timed humble brags:

Even Pence’s girlfriend joined in:

Pence seemed to be ready for all the criticism and answered it aptly, but Yahoo Sports involving the joke on a fantasy football—not baseball—update was one that caught him off-guard:

Fan interactions with athletes in professional sports are inevitable, but there’s nothing quite like the relationship between fans and players in baseball. From Brandon Phillips signing a ball for a drunk heckler to Tony Gwynn Jr. using his glove to talk back to fans, MLB notables often find ways to have fun with the hate.

What Pence is experiencing with this joke might be on another level, but it’s still harmless and serves no ill purpose—especially with him hitting a combined 5-for-10 in his first two games featuring the signs. Given he’s a teammate and fan favorite with San Francisco and is enjoying his first All-Star season since 2011, Pence has plenty of reasons to smile. 

Pence hecklers have had their 15 minutes of fame, but he reminded them with a few humble brags that his life isn’t all that bad—even if he’s the butt of a thousand jokes at the moment. 

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Will Hunter Pence Maintain His Production in 2014?

In an otherwise painfully rough season, one of the few offensive bright spots for the San Francisco Giants in 2013 was right fielder Hunter Pence.

The Giants’ season was mostly plagued with inconsistency, and just about everyone wearing a Giants uniform was a culprit. But Pence proved to be the exception, appearing in all 162 games while compiling a .283/.339/.483 line to go along with 27 HRs, 99 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.

The question, then, becomes whether we can expect Pence to repeat his performance in 2014. The best indicator is the Giants right fielder’s steady production over the years.

Indeed, when it comes to consistency in power and run production, it doesn’t get much better than Pence. The Giants right fielder’s season lows in home runs, RBIs and runs in the last six seasons stand at 22 (2011), 72 (2009) and 76 (2009), respectively, which would be fantastic totals for just about anyone else in the Giants lineup.

In his career, Pence’s 162-game average, per baseball-reference.com, consists of 25 home runs, 94 RBIs, 87 runs and 14 steals (on top of an .815 OPS). Considering he played in all 162 games last season, it’s not a stretch to expect similar numbers in 2014.

Speaking of which, another element that defines Pence, aside from his consistency, is his rather impressive durability. He hasn’t played in fewer than 154 games in any season in the majors other than when he was called up midway through the season in 2007, his rookie year.

That means the Giants can rely on Pence to show up every day and give 110 percent, something they haven’t always been able to get out of their top hitters in the past. (i.e. Buster Posey’s injury history, Barry Bonds eclipsed 150 games just once in his last nine seasons in San Francisco.)

Pence will also hit behind Brandon Belt and Buster Posey in 2014. Belt has the potential to really break out in 2014 if he hits like he did in the second half of 2013, and Posey has high expectations after adding muscle in the offseason to combat the fatigue of catching duties that may have led to his .244 second-half average in 2013.

Pence was still able to drive in 99 runs in 2013, despite dealing with a largely inconsistent group of batters hitting ahead of him. Since coming over to the Giants, Pence has proven to be a bona fide RBI machine (144 RBIs in 221 games), but his best run producing season yet could be 2014, thanks to the guys hitting in front of him.

The most reasonable expectation for Pence is a slight dip in average, with similar numbers otherwise across the board. I’d expect NL pitchers to learn how to better handle his over-aggressiveness (which reared its ugly head at times in 2013), and Pence’s slightly-above-average .308 BABIP (per Fangraphs) could level out.

It’s also unreasonable to expect Pence to repeat his unprecedented 22 steals in 25 attempts in 2013, as his 22 swipes nearly doubled his combined total from 2011 and 2012. But double-digit steals is still a near certainty.

If you’re looking for power, run production and a clubhouse presence, Pence will once again be your guy in 2014.

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Grading the San Francisco Giants’ Moves so Far This Offseason

The San Francisco Giants have been one of the most active teams since the 2013 season ended. GM Brian Sabean has aggressively moved to restock the Giants roster, bringing back several familiar faces and adding two new free agents.

The Giants finished this past season in third place in the NL West, with a 76-86 mark. Sabean and the Giants are hoping to recapture the glory of their 2010 and 2012 World Series titles. Fortifying their roster is the first step towards that goal.

In addition, with the Los Angeles Dodgers spending freely with their endless vault of money, the Giants needed an upgrade in talent and have increased their spending. Failing to improve the roster would have likely doomed the Giants to another dismal finish in the NL West.

Let’s take a closer look at the moves the Giants have made, both the additions and the players they have decided to let go. Grades will also be provided.

All stats are courtesy of baseball-reference.com.  All contract details are courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts at baseballprospectus.com.


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