Yesterday it was Manny, today it’s Da Meat Hook.
Dmitri Young is in attendance at the Winter Meetings in Dallas and word from multiple baseball scribes is that he is in the best shape of his life. Really.
According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, he has lost 70 pounds (!) and is hoping to make a comeback in MLB.
This news doesn’t come as a tremendous shock, as Craig recently mentioned that the slimmed-down Young suited up for Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League. Unfortunately things didn’t go so well. He was released after batting just .167 (11-for-66) in 20 games.
It’s fun to root for comebacks, but Young is 38 years old and hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2008 as a member of the Nationals. It’s a longshot, but perhaps some GM will give him a spring training invite. He’s apparently willing to go to Japan if he can’t find an opportunity with an MLB club.
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.