Next up on the San Francisco Giants season reviews is right-handed outfielder Hunter Pence.
17 games, 56 plate appearances, .096/.161/.250, .411 OPS, 2 home runs, 6 RBI, 3 walks to 15 strikeouts
12 OPS+, 11 wRC+, -0.7 rWAR, -0.6 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Pence made the Opening Day roster, and was designated for assignment a month later, on Aug. 23.
Let’s get the ugly out of the way first. Hunter Pence was, by any measure, one of the worst players on the Giants this season.
He struggled massively out of the gates; after seven games he was 0-23 with 0 walks and 7 strikeouts. It didn’t get much better after that. It wasn’t the reunion we envisioned.
As the hits kept evading him, and the strikeouts and poor at-bats kept piling up, Pence slowly moved from a platoon staple to a back of the bench option. The writing started to be on the wall, and when the team acquired Daniel Robertson and needed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, it became poignantly clear what was going to happen.
But even those of us who are accustomed to Pence’s outstanding demeanor and energy were taken aback at just how brilliantly he took the disappointing end to his Giants tenure. Pence spoke glowingly of the team as he departed, and a month later announced his retirement in a tear-inducing video that mentioned how much he looked forward to transitioning into a full-time Giants fan.
Nothing can really prepare you for this part of your career when you have to say: I am retiring from baseball.— Hunter Pence (@hunterpence) September 26, 2020
Forever thankful and Gr8ful. pic.twitter.com/XoYTsLkOlu
And then, the very next day, he showed up in McCovey Cove to cheer on the Giants.
There were some special moments on the field as well, such as when he played his first team, the Houston Astros, and propelled the Giants to victory with a three-run home run and a ninth-inning single.
I’m not trying to shift the narrative by focusing on the good instead of the myriad struggles. But we all know what happened, and frankly there’s nothing to analyze. Pence won’t be playing next year, so we don’t need to debate whether or not a bounce-back is possible, or pick apart what led to the rough season.
He reached the end of the road. Every player does eventually.
Role in 2021
While I expect Pence to eventually take on a formal role with the Giants, I don’t think it will be next year. Instead he’ll just be the most enthusiastic fan we’ve ever seen.
On the field...
In our hearts...
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