A-Rod may sit out the All-Star Game

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Alex Rodriguez was voted in as the starting third baseman for the All-Star Game, but he may sit it out in order to rest his ailing knee.

I expect to hear a number of injury-themed bag-jobs on the All-Star Game in the coming days. It always happens and people rarely raise an eyebrow about it.  I don’t expect that to necessarily be the case with A-Rod, though, because people go out of their way to hate on him.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this story, supposedly about Derek Jeter getting 3000 hits, but somehow finding a way to insert this paragraph:

A-Rod is the anti-Jeter, a petulant player with tremendous skills who seems to play the game only for himself. He conned the Yankees into taking him on after three steroid-fueled years in Texas during which he hit 156 home runs, then got a new $275 million deal before he was finally outed as a user of performance-enhancing drugs.

The hate is strong out there. I expect to see A-Rod rage in stories about budget talks and the Middle East pretty soon.

Hunter Pence is mashing for the Rangers

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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.