Longtime big league outfielder Hunter Pence announced he’s retiring from baseball (Twitter link). This brings to an end a fourteen-year career spent with four teams, although he’ll surely be remembered most for his time with the Giants.
Pence originally broke into pro ball in 2004, selected by the Astros in the second round out of the University of Texas-Arlington. Notably “awkward and unorthodox” as a prospect, in the words of Baseball America, Pence nevertheless played himself into top prospect status by 2007. He broke into the big leagues with a bang, hitting .322/.360/.539 en route to a third place finish in the National League Rookie of the Year voting that season. Pence continually produced over his time in Houston, earning his first two All-Star nods there, before the struggling Astros shipped him off to the Phillies at the 2011 trade deadline for four prospects.
He continued to perform well in Philadelphia, hitting .289/.357/.486 over parts of two seasons, but the Phillies lost in the Division Series in 2011 and were en route to a playoff miss in 2012. Pence again headlined a deadline deal, this one sending him to San Francisco. His midseason acquirer fared much better the second time around, as the Giants erased a pair of big playoff deficits against the Reds and Cardinals before sweeping the Tigers in the 2012 World Series.
Set to reach free agency after the 2013 season, Pence instead re-upped with the Giants that September. Already a highly productive and popular player, that extension set the stage for Pence to become permanently identified with the San Francisco organization. He combined for a .280/.335/.464 line between 2013-14, garnering down ballot MVP support each year. He was perhaps even more instrumental in the Giants’ 2014 World Series run than he’d been in 2012, going 12-27 with a home run in San Francisco’s seven-game triumph over the Royals.
Of course, it wasn’t simply Pence’s productivity that made him so revered, both among diehard Giants’ loyalists and many baseball fans generally. He played with an endearing energy and exuberance. Coupled with his oft-awkward hitting mechanics and general lack of gracefulness on the diamond, Pence brought something of an everyman feel to the sport that resonated with outside observers, teammates and coaches.
Unfortunately, that high-energy style of play caught up to him in his 30’s. After 2014, Pence only once again managed to exceed 110 games in a season. He continued to produce when healthy up through 2016, but he seemingly hit a wall thereafter. Pence struggled through a pair of poor years with the 2017-18 Giants, seemingly ending his time with the organization (and putting his career in jeopardy).
Forced to settle for a minor-league deal with his hometown Rangers entering 2019, Pence remade his swing at age 36. He rebounded to post a .297/.358/.552 line over 316 plate appearances in Texas last year, picking up his fourth and final All-Star trip in the process. That also inspired the Giants to offer a major league deal last winter, setting the stage for a tremendous return story.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. Pence got off to an abysmal start and was released after just 56 plate appearances. That’ll mark his last work in the big leagues, although it’s fitting that his final games came in the orange and black.
All told, Pence will hang up the spikes with a .279/.334/.461 line over 7006 plate appearances, good for a 115 wRC+. He hit 244 home runs, 324 doubles and 55 triples, while stealing 120 bases. Pence was worth around 31 wins above replacement, in the estimation of both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference. He’s obviously most notable for being an integral part of two World Series winners in San Francisco and for the infectious joy he spread to teammates and fans alike. MLBTR congratulates Pence on a stellar career and wishes him the best in retirement.
Retiring because no team wants to pick him up.
That’s how it works most times.
It seems like we’ll forever be asking “Where’s Hunter?”
That’s usually how it goes, yes.
why does an announcement need to be made? you weren’t a star player so who cares
Why shouldn’t there be an announcement? It’s not like he was a nobody he played parts of a couple of seasons.
Dude is a .279 career hitter, 4x All-star and 2x World Series champ. Might not be a star player, but we was a very good player
Lots of ignorance to start off this thread
Agreed as well. Just lame
He absolutely was a star player for his team at times. Elite? Of course not. But he got MVP votes four times, which means he was a lot more than just a guy. Plus he was somewhat better known than his raw stats would suggest due to his personality.
Idiot. He had many great years with the Phillies and Giants and was an integral part of championship teams. Don’t be a chump…..oh, too late.
Ducky Buckin Fent
“weren’t a star player”
– 4 time All Star
– Was the All Star game MVP twice (!)
– Excellent postseason performer
– made over 130 mil in his career
I’m not a Giants (umm… baseball Giants anyway) fan at all. But, Hunter Pence was *absolutely* a star player, bro.
Welcome to baseball, champ. It’s a great game. Might want to watch your second game before posting.
Poor dragongrave. Always a step behind and the last one picked.
Perhaps you should retire from reading these posts if that’s your first response
Everyone so bitter today. Fine, he’s not Babe Ruth, but he had a fine showing and got some jewelry.
Far Beyond Driven
Retiring because I picked up your mom last night.
Awfully insulting comment.
Far Beyond Driven
Er muh gerd! Lol dude it’s just a joke, relax.
wylie K MITCHELL
did you get any offers?
Love Hunter, hope he sticks around San Francisco in some capacity. A franchise favorite.
Dang, hate to see that, but, all good things must end. Heck of a ball player. His comeback in 2019 with the Rangers was exceptional. Thought he might have another year or two, but got injured at the end of the season. Good career.
So. Cal. Giants fan
Without a doubt, my family and I will have lifelong great memories of Pence’s tenure with the team. We were always “tortured” and sitting at the edge of our couch! Hopefully we’ll get to see a few more in my lifetime!
Far Beyond Driven
His comeback year was one of the best stories of 2019. Gritty player. Lived up to his potential. Won the WS. I respect this man.
I feel like I have read this story before, like the Edinson Volquez retirement story. These guys just keep retiring.
Goofiest looking ball player I’ve ever seen. I remember going to cardinal games when he was with HOU and they were in the NL. Loved watching him play and take his warm up swings on deck. I still haven’t figured out how a dude who looks that uncoordinated could be that good at baseball. Wish him the best
It’s not coordination, he actually has a spinal issue that causes that lumbering
In his defense he said looked uncoordinated. No one uncoordinated could play at the pro level we all know that.
why do we care that players who were average retire lol
he was 14% better than average and had a 30WAR career and $130 in earnings. That is not average. Average is what you are and I hope they throw you a retirement party at whatever Denny’s you work at.
Ryan The Riot Theriot
4x All-Star, 2x World Series Champion, long spanning career, 30+ WAR for his career. Dude had a career worth celebrating and I’m not even a Giants fan.
Who still says LOL anymore?
Gotta love people who LOL their own comments. It’s probably the highlight of his week.
Why do we care when anonymous people complain about things that have nothing to do with them while laughing out loud to things that are not funny at all?
You’re not hiding very well 27rings, troll harder buddy.
You wish you could ever be as “average” at anything
Get off this thread and quit trolling for attention child
Average player, off the charts personality…..that requires an announcement. C’mon, haters, Hunter was fun to watch. And he played his butt off….not everybody does.
14 year career 31 WAR and a career 114 OPS+. If that’s “average” to you either you don’t understand the word or you don’t actually follow the sport much.
And given that most people who understand statistics realize that WAR and OPS+ are only slightly relevant, but mostly silly, means that your sphere of understanding is extremely narrow. But that’s fine. Doesn’t make you a bad person; but that and the personal attacks do you make you a twit.
The personal attacks aside, he’s not wrong
The executives that make personnel decisions for baseball teams are extremely familiar with these terms even if you don’t yet believe in their relevance
WAR and OPS+ are two of the best stats to judge overall performance
As an older school fan it took me a while to warm up the analytics, but just going by the success of the teams that utilize them more, they’re definitely relevant to the modern game
Are they relevant? Sure, so are batting average and pitching wins. And yes, that kind of metric analysis is certainly in vogue in modern Front Offices. And yes. Mike Trout’s a better hitter than Jose Sucre.
But most of the FO’s that have World Series trophies in the past 10 years (Red Sox, Giants, Royals) have been organizations that aren’t slavishly devoted to the numbers. Because they realize that such metrics are the RESULT of activity, not the cause.
So Pence had a 114 OPS+, easily explainable by factors which exist independent of his own personal abilities; how many meaningful games did he paly in September, for instance, or what was his contract status at certain points. All those factor into the pure number.
It’s not the numbers; it’s how the numbers happened. And that requires more analysis than quoting figures.
Was Pence above average? Could be…but his other talents (in-game skills, hustle and determination) along with his base abilities make him a desirable player.
Hunter Pence buys rocking chairs
Would love to see him the broadcast booth. He’s a great storyteller, and has an entertaining personality.
He will never get the love he deserves. He was an underrated player and teammate. Retirement happens to all players, but it sucks when it does.
No one looked worse swinging a bat than Pence.
Except for you.
Remember him in Philly good guy.
At least he didn’t wait a couple of years like other players do for retirement announce him.
Count this Reds fan among this guys admirers. He’s always been a gamer…best of luck to you Hunter
Great first galf with the Rangers last season but it gas been all downhill from there. I enjoyed watching Pence in his prime. Congratulations on a solid career
“although he’ll surely be remembered most for his time with the Giants.”
I disagree. He was a much better player for the post-Bagwell/Biggio Astros. Sure they didn’t win championships or anything, but he was the face of the franchise for a 4 year period.
I get what your saying but the role he play on two title winning teams is going to overshadow most of his early years in Houston.
I don’t think it will in the long run. Pence is not going to be thought of as a catalyst for the Giants dynasty. People will think of Posey, Bumgarner, Sandoval before Pence. Yeah he had a decent run as a role player in SF, but he the star in Houston.
Starting Right Fielder is more than a role player.
Oh just hush. I didn’t mean role player in a negative way. I just meant he wasn’t the star of the team and he wasn’t.
Unfortunately Hunter, this announcement comes 4 years TOO LATE. Enjoy the DOLLARS !!
You should have stop commenting before there were comment section.
Good Luck Hunter!
Hunter Pence eats pizza with a fork
Hunter Pence still has a Blockbuster card! All in good fun, Pence has a great personality
Memories of Tommy Joseph and Jonathan Singleton……aaaaah, you’ll be missed Hunter Pence. Not too shabby career
In the on deck circle?? Practice swings looked like a Charles Barkley golf swing
I was in Round Rock for Pence’s first game there and then again in Houston for his first game as an Astro and I felt this was a special player. He could have been the face of the Astros franchise his entire career if that idiot Ed Wade didn’t trade him on his way out the door himself in Houston. Worst GM ever.
And a mid game trade at that.
Nice career. Ugliest swing in baseball.
One of the best smiles though.
Dodger fan here. Will miss Hunter’s enthusiasm for the game and his unorthodox style of play. Have a great retirement Mr. Pence. You were a joy to watch.
Hunter S. Thompson? He was a writer, not a baseball player. Get your facts straight.
HP would ALWAYS find a place on my team.
Something that a lot people commenting here about his warmup swings apparently don’t know is, when asked about it, said he wasn’t practicing for a hittable pitch, but instead was practicing his emergency swing. He wanted to be ready for a tough pitch that he could foul it off to stay alive. If you doubt that compare his warmup swing to a swing when he was able to drive the ball. Yeah, his swing was never really fluid because of the spinal issue, but between warm up and actual hitting they are definitely different.
Tad, you da man, but you add reasonable, constructive comments that only fuel the dorks that don’t.
My pence defense? 2012 playoffs. The year one man put his team on his back and won the post season. The dorks can read about it, but you and I know what happened. Thx for the sanity tad.
I have a Hunter Pence bobble head on a scooter and I love it.
Thanks Hunter, you were a glue player and I thank you for all your contributions.
hats off to him, not going to find any players or fans that have anything negative to say about this guy.
Good career, let’s eat
Thanks for bringing such unique joy to baseball Hunter!
People talk about how they loved this guys “attitude” and “quirkiness.” Well, if you have me 90 million dollars I will also have a great attitude! There is a quirky, fun loving great student in my 6th grade class. Should he get 90 million dollars? All in all, this was a terrible contract. The Giants got one decent season from him, and then he either sucked or was injured. The “attitude” a player has on television doesnt mean anything.
“The Giants got one decent season from him, and then he either sucked or was injured.”
Why not stop being so coy, cut to the chase, and just write I know nothing about baseball (but in all caps). Or at least go back to school for Baseball 101.
For 4 seasons, 2013-16 he averaged a line of .281/339/.463 with an .803 OPS and a 124 OPS+. You must realize that it would be impossible to average those numbers over 4 seasons on the basis of “one decent season”. And if 3 of those seasons really did suck, he would have had to post the greatest single season of all time to do so.
I mean, really, how do you dream up this stuff that is nowhere close to reality?
He made the show, was voted an All-Star, won a couple of rings, had contracts totaling over $120 million dollars (and a full pension). He was a nice guy, didn’t give fans attitude, and was well-respected by his teammates. All in all a real good career.
Hunter Pence: great team player, had many good season and he has a good soul