Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hunter Pence is here to stay

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles explains why the Giants are probably going to run him out to right field next season

 Very interesting post -- Here is part

At the trade deadline this year, the completely awful Giants were quiet. They had traded the only player other teams wanted (Eduardo Nuñez), and everyone else was old, bad, or expensive, unless they were old, bad, and expensive.
Hunter Pence was one of the latter. On July 31, his OPS was .637. His on-base percentage was .290. His defensive metrics were unkind. He had just eight doubles in 345 plate appearances, which is one of the lowest percentages from a corner outfielder in recent memory. He struck out about three-and-a-half times more than he walked. He was 34 and owed $18.5 million in 2018. I’ll guess there wasn’t a single team that called about him, unless they were willing to be bold enough to ask that the Giants pay his entire salary. Of all their broken players, he might have been the most brokenest.
At the beginning of September, I wrote about his historically discouraging season, and that’s when the Giants started saying that there were no guarantees about any of the incumbent outfielders. It looked like that was the end for Pence as the de facto starter. It was a great run, but it was over.
However, digging through some splits, I finally saw what Pence did after the deadline. For two months, Pence hit .289/.361/.457. He had six homers and three triples in 194 plate appearances, and perhaps more impressively, he walked 20 times to just 34 strikeouts. That was a much better ratio than the previous three months, and it reminded me of someone: It reminded me of Hunter Pence when he was right.
You’re skeptical, and I can understand that. He’s still going to be 35, which isn’t usually an age in which players overcome the struggles of the previous season.
What I keep coming back to, though, is that he’s a sunk cost, and I don’t mean that negatively this time. The Giants are going to pay him $18.5 million, regardless of what happens. That means their options are roughly ...
Pay another team to take him
I cannot possibly imagine this. If the Giants pay $17 million of his contract, I’m not sure if they get a C prospect back. Not worth it.
Make right field an offseason priority and put Pence on the bench
The Giants would consider this if some very specific dominoes fell, I would think, but they wouldn’t actively make it a priority. Center field, third base, and left field are a higher priority. There’s no sense spending $10 million to get Jay Bruce or Carlos Gonzalez, which would add up to a nearly $30 million right fielder, especially when those players have had their ups and downs, too.


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