Willie Bloomquist is the Pavement of baseball players

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After that Madonna post I feel like I sort of need to come back quickly and re-establish some form of musical credibility. So, now I will tell you all about how great I think the Pet Shop Boys are …

Kidding!

I offer you a link (sorry, subscription only) to Baseball Prospectus in which Geoff Young uses the band Pavement — which I like a lot, I swear! — to explain why it is that people seem to have such a fascination with gritty, scrappy players like Willie Bloomquist and David Eckstein.

The upshot: psychological studies have found that stars whose gifts, such as they are, seem attainable evoke inspiration and love. In contrast, stars whose success seem unobtainable often leave observers feeling cold.

We like Willie Bloomquist and David Eckstein because they don’t seem all that different than us. We feel distant from Barry Bonds (or whoever) because there was some high-level genius going on there that we can’t quite grok.  Same goes for Pavement, who sometimes aren’t too concerned with, you know, musicianship, while it’s harder to warm up to a band full of virtuosos. Like, I dunno, Yngwie Malmsteen or Rush.

Now all we have to do is to forget two things:

1.  There are a lot of reasons to not like Barry Bonds, Yngwie Malmsteen and Rush separate and apart from their virtuosity; and

2. That, however normal and attainable they appear to us, Willie Bloomquist and Pavement actually have extremely developed skills that we could never, ever hope to replicate.

There. Now we can dislike them once again with a clear conscience.

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.