Baseball is Dead Alert! From MLB’s press office:
Major League Baseball recorded the highest-attended pre-Memorial Day weekend in history by drawing 1,652,935 fans for this weekend’s 45 games, it was announced today. The total this weekend, which featured the first 42 Interleague games of the season, eclipsed the previous mark of 1,640,976 (May 19th-21st, 2006) …
… Overall, Major League Baseball has drawn 18,637,924 fans this season through 617 dates (30,207 per game), representing a 6.7 percent increase over the same point in the 2011 season.
Attendance up. TV ratings up. I tell ya, with all of this good news, I would expect only a dozen or two “baseball is dying” articles written by non-baseball writers this fall as opposed to the usual three-score or so.
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.