Stop me if you've heard this, but Hunter Pence is weird, guys. He runs all jangly and bobbly and he hits all googly. And, according to this information from ESPN's Home Run Tracker, he can also hit laser missile rocket home runs to the opposite field. (To be precise: it was an 111.7 mile-per-hour opposite-field HR.)
I'm, of course, talking about last night's dinger off of Will Harris in the seventh inning. You can watch the video here if you've somehow missed it. Maybe my favorite part of the actual HR is that Kuip's first intuition is that it's a hard hit ball to right field, but instead of landing in the mitt of Gerardo Parra, or bouncing off the wall for a double, it keeps going over the fence. That, as they say, takes a strong man.
Pence's willingness to hit the ball to RF has been a refreshing development in 2013. A quick look at his percentages of opposite field hits shows that he's not really hitting more balls into RF this season -- 24.3 percent of Pence's career hits are to the opposite field; 23.3 percent in 2013 -- but he is doing more damage this season.
In an admittedly small sample, Pence ranks 8th in all of baseball in opposite-field hitting. Here's what the top ten currently looks like
Pence's isolated power (ISO) of .327 to the opposite field is mighty impressive. He's hit seven doubles, one triple, and two home runs to that side of the field. The list -- with the exception of Michael Bourn -- pretty much looks like how I imagined it would look like. You've got some guys with serious power -- Braun and Davis -- and you also have guys that are just great all around hitters.
So Pence is scorching the ball to right field so far this season. That's great. But how has he done over his career in that regard? Here's Pence's year-to-year ranking by opposite field wRC+.
|Year||MLB Rank||Opposite Field wRC+|
You should be excited to note that in 2011 when Pence did a great job of hitting the other way, he had one of his finest seasons -- 140 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR -- in his career. If the season ended today, Pence's 131 wRC+ would nearly match his 2007 season (132 wRC+) as the outfielder's second best season in his career.
So good on Hunter Pence. His disappointing Giants debut in 2012 is looking more and more like a distant memory. And despite his hunger for human-organ meat, he's a been a real treat to watch.