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Hunter Pence wants to lead off for the Giants

Aug 4, 2013, 7:15 PM EDT

The Giants will go with a new lead-off hitter tomorrow. Since losing Angel Pagan to a strained left hamstring, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres have shared responsibilities at the top of the batting order. CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly suggests the new lead-off man will be Marco Scutaro, but also mentioned this:

There are few players I’d like less to lead off than Hunter Pence. He ranks 49th out of 64 batters in pitches seen per plate appearance, according to ESPN. Pence himself admitted to being an “aggressive swinger”. A good lead-off hitter is patient and tries to see as many pitches as possible to his teammates have an early idea what the pitcher has and how well it is working on that particular day. Additionally, a good lead-off hitter gets on base frequently, and that isn’t Pence’s forte as his on-base percentage ranks fifth out of eight Giants with enough plate appearances to qualify. It also happens that Pence has arguably been the Giants’ second-best hitter overall behind Buster Posey, making them an obvious combination in the middle of the lineup.

  1. hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    I like the idea. The talk about “seeing as many pitches as possible in order to help your team mates” is old coaches speak. Most of them are throwing sunflower seeds at one another. They already know what pitches the guy throws, and if they don’t, the Giants need to fire their scouting and video departments. You can’t learn which pitches are working based off 1 batter anyway.

    A good leadoff hitter gets on base. A great leadoff hitter gets on base and has speed. Pence doesn’t get on base a lot compared to the league, but he does compared to his team mates. Scutaro should lead off, but the difference in OBP isn’t huge. It’s equivalent to getting on base 2-3 more times over the rest of the season.

    Pence is 15 for 15 in stolen bases. He’s not a good leadoff hitter, but he’s about the best option for a team struggling for offense.

    • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 7:43 PM

      Woops. Was looking at Belt’s OBP, not Scutaro when I said 2-3 more times on base. Scutaro is about .045 ahead in OBP, so over another 200 PA or so, is additional times on base. So I still think Scutaro is the best choice, but Pence isn’t a bad idea.

      • hittfamily - Aug 4, 2013 at 7:44 PM


  2. 13arod - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    I dont like him leading off lead off hitters have to be patient and hes an aggressive hitter

  3. missingdiz - Aug 4, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    I’m not sure what a “pure hitter” is, but Pence is the opposite; he’s a hacker–fun to watch, but a hacker. To have him lead off pretty much would stand all accumulated wisdom on its head. You want the lead-off hitter on base so the power guys can drive him in. In the Giants’ context, Pence is a power guy. Hitting lead-off after the first inning he’d be hitting behind the #8 hitter and the pitcher. I think Bochy will “backchannel” this idea down the toilet; he’s not an idiot.

  4. knicksmets - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    He should do whatever the team needs him to do, which probably isn’t leadoff, seems to be more suited for 3rd-5th, but it isn’t like the giants are doing that well as it is, so they may be willing to give it a go to try and win

  5. Stiller43 - Aug 4, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    Starling Marte swings at every single pitch, ever…and he’s a leadoff man…he also has blazing speed pence does not have though…

  6. Kevin Gillman - Aug 4, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Grady Sizemore had some good years with the Indians as a lead-off hitter, and he wasn’t always known to take many walks. I think Hunter is one of those rare exceptions, where he can motivate any team he is on and at this point, what else do the Giants have to lose?

  7. sometimesimisscandlestick - Aug 4, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    I like Pence, and I really like that even though he thought he was going to be traded, he still wanted to resign with the Giants next year. I say try it. How much worse could it possibly be?

  8. APBA Guy - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    The Giants struggles this year are not just limited to the problems they’ve had at lead-off since Pagan went down. I’m not sure moving Pence up to #1 is going to make much difference.

    • temporarilyexiled - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      I couldn’t agree more. Every traditional run-producing position in the field lacks players who consistently produce at a level that would get any pitcher’s attention. Both corner infield spots and the entire outfield need major upgrades. And yes, I’m including Sandoval and Pence in my argument.
      Even though they both can carry a team, you can’t rely in either one of them for any length of time.

      With many contracts to get out from under, I can see why Brian Sabean stood pat. But we now see how that’s worked out. Even if Pagan returns to form, he’s no Carl Crawford. Affeldt hasn’t exactly hit the mark. Scutaro is the only one worth the signing…if they can keep him on the field.

      Pence leading off? What was inspirational has now become comical. Seeing as the farm system is, as usual, bereft of position players, Brian Sabean will have his work cut out for him retooling in the offseason. Let’s just hope he doesn’t yet again bring in a load of 30-somethings to do it.

  9. Kevin Gillman - Aug 4, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    Yeah but my goodness they do have a very promising young pitcher in Fernandez. I was just in awe watching that game Friday night, I mean at the time he left, the Marlins were up 5-0, and the game itself wasn’t that close. That slider too was wicked, he might already have the best slider in the game.

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