After a couple of injury plagued seasons, 2017 will be an important year for Hunter Pence. How much he’s able to produce could determine the San Francisco Giants season.
There is no question that the San Francisco Giants are a better baseball team when Hunter Pence is in the lineup. When he’s not on the field there is an obvious hole in the roster.
After playing in at least 154 games for seven straight years – including 162 games in two straight seasons – he’s played in just 158 games the past two years.
He’ll turn 34 on April 13, which means he’s on the backside of his career. The Giants still owe him $18.5 million this year and the next.
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He’s been great when he’s in the lineup hitting .275 and .289 during his limited time the past two seasons, but you have to figure he’s going to start declining at some point – and the injuries sure seem to be a sign of things to come.
However, I still think that if he’s healthy in 2017 the Giants will win the NL West.
This is still Buster Posey’s team, and he’s the straw that stirs the drink. But as I said earlier, this lineup is a lot scarier with a healthy Hunter Pence.
During those seven years of playing 154 or more games he hit over 20 home runs in each of those seasons. When healthy he’s going to give you 20-plus home runs, 80-90 RBIs and hit .275.
You put that type of bat behind Buster Poser on a consistent basis and pitchers will have a tough time slowing down this offense, especially with the type of production I think the Giants will get at the top of the lineup this year.
One of the best things about the Giants is that you know what you’re going to get from your players. We know what we can expect from Posey, Joe Panik, Denard Span, Brandon Crawford and – at this point – Brandon Belt.
I don’t expect to see any surprises from those guys – they are what they are.
You also know what you can expect from Hunter Pence … when he’s in the lineup. And if he’s in the lineup for over 150 games this year, you can expect to see the Giants at the top of the NL West.