Could the 2020 season be the last for former Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence?
Former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence has garnered several accomplishments throughout his 14-year career — most notably, two World Series championships with the San Francisco Giants in 2012 and 2014.
Through 1,698 career games entering Sunday, Pence has slugged 324 doubles, 242 home runs, and 936 RBI, while slashing .279/.334/.461. Before the 2020 season, however, his career slash line, from 2007 to 2019, was .280/.335/.462.
The one-point drop in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage are attributed to Pence batting 0-for-23 so far in his second stint in San Francisco under manager Gabe Kapler. Across the 24 plate appearances overall, he has struck out seven times and grounded into two double plays.
Kapler says the Giants are not giving up on Pence — who he calls his primary designated hitter a “stud” — just yet, but with him only under contract for this season, could 2020 be the 37-year-old’s swan song in the major leagues?
After two All-Star stints and parts of five seasons with the Houston Astros, the Phillies acquired Pence in late July 2011 in exchange for minor-leaguers Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton, Josh Zeid, and Domingo Santana. All eventually reached the majors, but only Santana remains active on the Cleveland Indians roster with fellow former Phillie “Santana,” Carlos Santana.
Just one year later, following a disappointing 2011 NLDS finish and start to the 2012 season, the Phillies dealt Pence to the Giants in exchange for Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin, and Nate Schierholtz.
In 155 combined games in red pinstripes during the latter half of 2011 and early half of 2012, Pence slashed .289/.357/.486 with 27 doubles, 28 home runs, and 94 RBI. In five games during the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals, he notched three runs scored, four singles, four RBI, and two walks spanning 21 plate appearances.
Pence’s next stop in San Francisco was the pinnacle point in his career. In 2014, not only did he earn his second World Series ring and third of four All-Star nods, he finished in the top-11 in the Most Valuable Player Award race. That year, Pence slashed .277/.332/.4456 with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 20 home runs, 74 RBI, and 52 walks in 162 games played. His best offensive production season, however, was in 2012 with the Phillies and Giants, combining for 24 home runs and 104 RBI.
Of course, there is still time for Pence to turn things around in 2020, but you have to wonder how long of a leash the Giants will give him given the shortened season and each game mattering more than ever before.
The 2018 season, Pence’s last in his first stint with the Giants before playing 83 games with the Texas Rangers in 2019, similarly featured lower-than-expected numbers. That year in 97 games, he slashed only .226/.258/.332.
If 2020 is indeed the swan song for the former Phillies outfielder, Pence surely had a respectable career. Maybe not Hall-of-Fame worthy, but better than average nonetheless.