The Connection Between Pence, Scott And Young

Hunter Pence and his representatives at Beverly Hills Sports Council likely took notice when Mike Napoli and the Rangers agreed to a $5.8MM salary for 2011. And Pence’s agency will probably be watching the cases for Luke Scott and Delmon Young just as carefully (keep track of all arbitration submissions with MLBTR's Arb Tracker).

Pence, a super two who is arbitration eligible for the second time, asked for more money than Scott, Napoli, or Young even though the Astros outfielder is a year further from free agency than the others. Pence can ask for $6.9MM through arbitration, since his career totals compare well with players like Scott and Young, who are on track to hit free agency after 2012. 


Pence doesn’t have as much big league experience as Scott, Napoli or Young, but he has more career runs and stolen bases than any of them and comparable home run and RBI totals. Pence is also working from a relatively high base salary ($3.5MM) and is the only one of the players above to have made an All-Star team.

Length and consistency of career contribution matter in an arbitration hearing, which plays in Pence’s favor. He has appeared in 156 games or more in each of his three full seasons, hitting exactly 25 homers three times in a row. He has finished the past two campaigns with a .282 batting average, so it shouldn’t be hard for BHSC to show that Pence has been consistent and durable.

Pence is far from a perfect player; he has been successful just 61% of the time he has attempted to steal bases and doesn’t walk as much as Scott or Napoli. But it's his $6.9MM asking price that could become his biggest problem. Napoli, a comparable player in terms of career accomplishments, settled for $5.8MM. Carlos Quentin, another comparable player, already settled for $5.05MM, reducing the others’ leverage.

Young ($6.25MM) and Scott ($6.85MM) filed for less than Pence, but they could still help their fellow-outfielder by winning in arbitration. If they lose or settle, however, Pence will have a hard time explaining that he’s worth more than the $6.025MM midpoint (the Astros filed at $5.15MM) when comparable players are making $5-6MM.

Pence and the Astros are headed to arbitration soon and what happens with Scott and Young could have a major impact on how much the Astros are paying their right fielder for 2011 and beyond.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

13 Responses to The Connection Between Pence, Scott And Young Leave a Reply

  1. Lunchbox45 5 years ago

    Even the 5.15 the Astro’s submitted is too generous

  2. Hunter Pence is one of the most underrated OFers in the game today. He has speed with pop also he’s a total gamer on a losing team. The only flaws I see in his game is his patience. He needs to look at more pitches and he needs a base coach to discipline him more at stealing bases. Someone like a Davy Lopes would be beneficial for this kids development.

  3. $1742854 5 years ago

    Two big reasons why the ARB system needs to be fixed: All-Star game appearances and saves. Just because Matt Capps rung up some saves or Evan Meek was the lone All Star on a pathetic team doesn’t mean that it should mean anything in the ARB process.

    • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

      It’s not even the Arb process, even the Marlins got duped by the braves in the Uggla trade because Infante was an all star lol

  4. davengmusic 5 years ago

    Hunter Pence plays HARD. Those who watched Craig Biggio grind out 20 seasons in Houston can appreciate what Pence does. He’s not a great baserunner, and you’d like to see a better OBP from him, but he’s league average at OBP, and better than league average at most everything else. I’d say he’s worth 6.9.

  5. ZeroZeroZero 5 years ago

    Pence is completely un the radar. In NY, Boston, LA, Philly he would be viewed as the next great.

  6. Ryan Braun and Pence has the same amount of service time, but Braun signed a multi-year contract buying out his arb. years. That said, Braun’s set to earn $5.5M this season, though while a bit team friendly, isn’t vastly underpaid. No way is Hunter Pence worth $1.4M than Braun…..

    • Braun at 5.5 isn’t vastly underpaid? WAR of 4.6, 4.9, 4.2… Stats beg to difer with that statement. While fangraphs is a bit flawed when looking at Value: Dollars, the guy is seriously underpaid, and with good reason: he signed early and long = security.

      Pence is still a steal at 5 to 6m. Any team out there would be all over that in the FA. Pence didn’t sign for security, and that’s an advantage to going to arb. We may think the process is flawed, but as Papelbon said, “I like to gamble” and it can pay off.

      • TwinsVet 5 years ago

        Since when is “what they would make in free agency” a criteria for “what they should make in arbitration”?

        Teams SHOULD pay less for arbitration years than it would cost them to get the guy as a free agent. They’ve invested a good chunk of money into scouting and development to find and train the kid. They should be able to reap 6 years of service time out of someone before paying free-market rates.

      • No Braun nor Pence is vastly underpaid. This has absolutely nothing to do with free agency. It has everything to do with service time, which both Pence and Braun are Super 2s in the 2nd year of arbitration.

        If Braun is making $5.5M, is Pence worth more? I say no, but it’s not quite that simple, since Braun signed a multi-year contract buying out arb. and 2 free agent years. Team friendly yes, but not crazy team friendly.

  7. Backup_Slider 5 years ago

    It’d be interesting to see Vegas lines on these arbitration cases. I’m guessing the oddsmakers would heavily favor the Astros over Pence, especially since they’ve got seasoned arbitration guru Tal Smith in their front office.

  8. platetectonics 5 years ago

    i wonder what pences batting line would look like w/out his infield hits

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