Jesus Montero “learned how to run” this offseason

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Not only is Jesus Montero one of the slowest runners in baseball, he runs … well, let’s say oddly. Jeff Sullivan of the Mariners blog Lookout Landing once described Montero’s running style as like “stepping on creaky floorboards and you’re trying not to wake up a baby.”

And as Greg Johns of MLB.com reports, Montero spent the offseason trying not to run so slowly and oddly:

“I spent a lot of time running and working on my techniques about running,” he said. “That’s what I did. I ran a lot and I learned how to run. Because last year … you know I’m slow, but I want to run a little better and gain a little more speed and all that. So that’s what I did, just run.”

Montero said he worked with a running specialist from Venezuela, as well as an instructor the Mariners sent to help him after observing his upright, awkward style in his first year in Seattle.

So does he feel faster now? “I feel good,” Montero said with a smile. “I’m learning how to run a little more beautiful, a little better, you know?”

I was going to make a joke about the absurdity of a 23-year-old professional athlete not knowing how to run, but then I remembered I’m a 30-year-old man who never learned how to shave with a non-electric razor and has instead spent the past decade with a constant five o’clock shadow like some sort of Jewish Don Johnson. Maybe I should go to Venezuela in search of a shaving expert, is the moral of this post basically.

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.