For fans in Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, the answer is pretty simple. But that is why it needs to be explained to the rest of the country why Hunter Pence is such a special baseball player.
He’s not a selfish player, wanting the spotlight. In fact, his colorful nature would be more likely to want to sit down and talk with the fans rather than speak through the camera.
His passion for the game is evident in his play on the field. He has instincts that have been refined over his years in the game, and he, by all accounts, is a tremendous teammate.
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When determining a player’s value, stats are always going to be the main focus. But with a player like Pence, there are intangibles that also need to be measured. How does his presence on a team affect those around him? Would a young player hit as well with veterans who treat them like Cousin Oliver on the Brady Bunch? Several young Giants have mentioned that Pence has helped with their transition.
There are even more basic plays where his value goes somewhat undetected. Balls like the one hit last night (double down the line that he played perfectly to hold up a runner at third), are normally runs given up by other clubs. Not only does it help the team win games, but the pitchers really appreciate it.
Pence hit his 200th home run tonight. He ran the bases like it was his first one. His respect for the game shows in every game, every inning, every pitch.
It’s precisely the reason why every young person starts playing the game. To have the opportunity to suit up with 24 teammates and work toward one goal. Whether it’s typical statistics, WAR, or anything else that is conjured up, it will never take into account the intangibles.
It isn’t often talked about, but Pence’s injury last year had a similar ripple effect on the lineup that Buster Posey‘s injury had in 2011. And you can’t discount his consistent defense playing a difficult right field at AT&T Park.
Fans in his home parks can appreciate, but sometimes take for granted, his effort on the field. His play shows that while you can’t always be in first place, you can at least play hard enough where you deserve to be.
Thank you Hunter for your amazing efforts on the diamond, and while 200 home runs is an amazing feat, I believe it’s just the tip of the iceberg for you. Congratulations!!