For anyone into the World Baseball Classic, here’s the Team USA lineup for today’s pre-WBC tuneup game against the White Sox:
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
3. Ryan Braun, DH
4. Joe Mauer, C
5. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
6. Mark Teixeira, 1B
7. David Wright, 3B
8. Adam Jones, CF
9. Shane Victorino, LF
Like many managers, Joe Torre likes speedy guys atop the lineup even if they don’t do a particularly good job getting on base. Rollins and Phillips had .316 and .321 on-base percentages last season, so they aren’t exactly ideal table-setters. Mauer, who got on base at a .416 clip last year while hitting just 10 homers in 147 games, is batting cleanup, which he hasn’t done for the Twins since 2006.
Breaking down batting orders for an exhibition game before an exhibition tournament seems like probably the biggest waste of time in the world, but … I dunno, it seemed a little interesting to me.
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.