Though the deal was reached several weeks ago, the new contract between Major League Baseball and the umpires was finally ratified and signed by the men in blue late last night. Rob Neyer was looking at it and found the provision on buyouts for older umpires to be quite interesting, seeing it as a means to force out the dead wood. The comment from the umps’ lawyer on it: “The retirement issue was important to several umpires who are thinking
about it. The provisions of this contract
will allow them to do that comfortably in the near future.”
Yeah, that’s what I’d say too if a bunch of my guys were about to get forced out.
Of course, it’s not like there’s going to be a ton of drama with umpire labor issues in the foreseeable future, what with the brilliant ploys of the last umpire’s union, which cost 22 of the guys their jobs. These guys are eminently replaceable, they know it, and they should be pretty darn happy to have the great, high paying jobs that they do, so what’s a few forced retirements between friends?
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.