No one asked and fewer care, but since I will probably continue to critique, praise and analyze Hall of Fame ballots of others, I may as well make it clear who I would support if I had the franchise. Here would be my guys this year:
Bert Blyleven, Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire, Alan Trammell and Jeff Bagwell.
The closest calls in terms of guys I excluded: Larry Walker, because I’m still not sure how to weigh his Coors Field days, though I may be convinced to (hypothetically) check yes in the future. Same with Fred McGriff, on whom I have wavered over the years. Indeed, I think I have written posts both for and against his candidacy in the past. Which is something I’m totally proud of.
Ultimately, I don’t believe in the concept of making guys wait because there are others “in front of them” — if they’re worthy, they’re worthy — but at the same time, I have a hard time putting ten guys on the ballot.
Put differently, Hall voting isn’t as easy as it seems.
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.