Hunter Pence’s leadership valuable for the San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants, Hunter Pence (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants, Hunter Pence (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants brought back a fan favorite and a team-first player in Hunter Pence whose value is undoubtedly going to make an impact beyond just the clubhouse.

Optimism surrounds the San Francisco Giants with Spring Training just getting into the early stages, with games set to begin shortly. Expectations are unfavorable for the Giants with a new manager in Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi in his second year as president of baseball operations.

Fanfest for the Giants did create a buzz in San Francisco after the club announced a popular Giants player would make his return for a second stint. Hunter Pence returns to the city by the bay after spending last season with the Texas Rangers.

No, do not expect the 36-year-old to be the everyday starter in right field. The outfield positions are likely to be a platoon system under Kapler. With all the minor acquisitions Zaidi has made, he is going to provide Kapler the best lineups daily based on baseball analytics.

Injuries plagued Pence after the San Francisco Giants’ last championship. After playing in all 162 games in 2013 and 2014, health became an issue, only appearing in 52 games in 2015.

With a club option not going to be picked up, 2018 marked the end for Pence in the Bay Area after appearing in 97 games in an injury-riddled campaign.

Age 32 seems to be a year for most athletes at the end of the prime years and must find ways to adjust to maintain longevity in the big leagues. The defense may decline, but maximizing plate appearances become the subject of finding ways to manufacture offense depending on the situation.

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For Pence, his injuries came from playing in right field. To miss, his defense hurt the Giants but made matters worse at the plate. The unorthodox approach by Pence disappeared in the final seasons, making his departure a forgone conclusion.

Now, Pence returns on a one-year deal with the hope he provides some productivity and not just to sell tickets.

Pence reinvented his swing after 2018 and got an opportunity with the Rangers on a minor league deal. His efforts paid off as he earned a spot on the Rangers and earned a spot on the 2019 All-Star team.

Hunter Pence’s biggest contribution came from hitting off left-handed pitchers. He will most likely draw into the lineup against lefties as the Giants did not fare well going against left-handed pitchers.

The offense will once again be in the spotlight and Kapler must find ways to maximize every ounce

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of effort from his players.

But let’s forget about expectations for the 2020 Giants and focus on the value Pence is going to provide, not just on the field. From his arrival, via trade from Philadelphia, Pence provided leadership in the clubhouse.

His value got shown during the 2012 division series against Cincinnati, becoming the reverend in the dugout. In that speech, the Giants responded to Pence’s all-in attitude to not give up, no matter the score, resulting in another improbable run to a World Series crown.

Resilience could best describe Pence in giving everything to the team daily, whether starting or coming off the bench. He is grateful for getting to play baseball in San Francisco.

Retirement did not cross his mind after his final appearance with the Giants and chose to play winter ball. His willingness to be a great teammate and find his swing again paved the way for the opportunity in Texas and perhaps a better curtain call in San Francisco, no matter the final standings.

From riding his scooter in the city to embracing the fanfare he received during FanFest, Pence is going to provide mentorship to the younger players on the San Francisco Giants. Chances are the Giants will suffer plenty of losses this coming season.

The losses will be difficult, but Pence is going to stay upbeat and help his teammates continue to become better baseball players through the tough times.

As the transition goes into full effect, leadership is going to be a significant factor for both now and the future.

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To have Hunter Pence come in during a fragile part of making or breaking Zaidi’s plan to build a contender, his guidance will hopefully have a positive impact.