Carlos Gonzalez started 55 games in center field, 51 in left and 34 in right last season, but his days of roving around the outfield are over, at least if Rockies manager Jim Tracy has anything to say about it.
According to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, Tracy said today that Gonzalez will be the regular left fielder for the Rockies this season.
“He’s earned it,” said Tracy. “You have to show respect for the player.”
Gonzalez, 24, won his first career Gold Glove last season after finishing with the second highest fielding percentage among National League outfielders. Advanced metrics weren’t quite as favorable to him last season, but he has rated well above average in left field during his brief career, according to UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) on FanGraphs.
While Gonzalez will be the regular left fielder for the club, Dexter Fowler is projected to start in center and Seth Smith will play right.
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.