The Giants acquired Hunter Pence to drive in runs hitting behind Buster Posey. And that’s exactly what he did in the regular season. In 59 games after coming over from the Phillies, Pence racked up 45 RBI. That pace would have led the NL had he maintained it for the full year.
Of course, it’s been a different story in the postseason. Pence hasn’t driven in a single run in eight games to date. He’s 5-for-31 with no extra-base hits and just one walk. In Wednesday’s loss, he hit with five men on base and advanced none of them. After Posey was intentionally walked to get to him in the third, he hit into a double play.
Pence also went 0-for-9 in his final three regular-season games, leaving him with a .125 average in his last 11 games overall.
Perhaps the Giants should have seen this coming. For all of the runs batted in, Pence didn’t exactly set the world afire after arriving in July. He hit just .219 with seven homers in 219 at-bats. His season OPS of .742 was his lowest in six years as a major leaguer.
Still, since the Giants decided not to activate Melky Cabrera, they’ve pretty much backed themselves into a corner with their outfield situation. They may replace Pence in the fifth spot behind Posey, but there aren’t any attractive options as replacements. The most likely option would involve moving Gregor Blanco up to the third spot and dropping Pablo Sandoval to fifth. Pence will remain in the starting lineup either way, but he may bat sixth or seventh in Thursday’s Game 4.
Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.
Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list
Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.
Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.
Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).
While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.