We’re used to hearing your typical New Year’s resolutions. Work out more. Quit smoking. Read more HardballTalk. You know, that kind of thing.
But for Chien-Ming Wang, the goal is simple. He wants to pitch in the majors this upcoming season. According to a report in the China Post, Wang said at a charity drive yesterday he’ll be able to do so “hopefully in May.”
Wang, who turns 31 in March, hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since undergoing shoulder surgery in July of 2009. The Nationals signed him a to a one-year, $2 million contract last offseason in hopes that he would be able to make it back at some point during the 2010 season, but he was only able to make a couple appearances for the organization’s Instructional League team in the fall. He recently re-signed a new contract with the Nationals that includes a $1 million base salary and $4 million in performance incentives.
There was a time when Wang’s sinker was one of the most effective pitches in the major leagues, so this is a small price to pay for a chance at a rebound, especially for a rotation that needs all the help they can get.
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.