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“The mechanism’s rolling on all cylinders”: Hunter Pence is back in the spotlight

Watch his interview from MLB Tonight.

MLB: San Diego Padres at San Francisco Giants Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

We just debuted “McDeep Dive”, our new series that will spotlight one Giants player every day for a week. We’ll move backwards and forwards through time, look at on the field stuff, off the field stuff, and see if we can learn something new about them. Here’s part 1 of this week’s subject, Hunter Pence.

American League fans haven’t started pushing for Designated Big Hitters yet, which means for now, anyone in the batter’s box is free to get a big hit for their team. In the 11th inning of yesterday’s game, Hunter Pence hit the 11th walk-off of his career and got mobbed by his teammates because the magnitude of it went far beyond the final score.

The idea of an “emotional leader” is silly in professional sports because on the spreadsheets that dictate management decisions, these aren’t human beings, they’re simply highly-skilled event-generating meat puppets that boost or hurt revenue with their collective output. But meat puppets need encouragement. They need positive feelings and attitudes.

Hunter Pence gave a fiery speech in 2012 which, as Grant points out, had nothing to do with the Giants winning the World Series that season, but it’s all the players cared to focus on after the fact. Which is actually a good thing.

A team’s best player might not always be its leader, emotional or otherwise, but every team needs one. Not because teams need a constant figurehead, but it’s nice to know they have one should it ever be needed. Yesterday, Hunter Pence’s big hit was very much needed, and it’s nice to see him back in a familiar spotlight.