2012 projections: top 10 second basemen

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The top 10 at second base is led by the one player at the position I have projected to hit .300 this year:

.882 – Robinson Cano (Yankees) – 638 AB – .882 in 2011
.859 – Ian Kinsler (Rangers) – 560 AB – .832 in 2011
.855 – Chase Utley (Phillies) – 532 AB – .769 in 2011
.836 – Rickie Weeks (Brewers) – 516 AB – .818 in 2011
.821 – Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox) – 598 AB – .861 in 2011
.810 – Dan Uggla (Braves) – 562 AB – .764 in 2011
.796 – Dustin Ackley (Mariners) – 581 AB – .766 in 2011
.795 – Daniel Murphy (Mets) – 438 AB – .809 in 2011
.792 – Howie Kendrick (Angels) – 559 AB – .802 in 2011
.786 – Jason Kipnis (Indians) – 534 AB – .841 in 2011

– Nope, no Ben Zobrist, though he is next on the list at .783. Of course, I’ve never had an accurate Zobrist projection, so this one could be just as far off as usual. I just don’t see him hitting for quite so much power this season.

– It wasn’t intentional that Cano got the same OPS here that he finished with last year, but that’s about what I think his talent is. I projected him for an .884 OPS last year, so I’m basically just duplicating that.

– The worst of the bunch: new Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis has the low projection for anyone with 400 at-bats (.670). For 200 at-bats, the lows are free agent Aaron Miles (.639) and his replacement on the Dodgers, Adam Kennedy (.647).

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.