A.J. Ellis is in The Best Shape of His Life

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While Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis didn’t come right out and say it, this comes right out of the BSOHL playbook.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Ellis said today that he lost 15 pounds over the winter. The 32-year-old dropped the weight because he wants to take on a bigger load behind the plate this year and catch between 120-125 games.

Ellis has functioned as the Dodgers’ primary catcher over the past two seasons. After catching 131 games (128 starts) in 2012, he dropped down to 113 games (109 starts) last year because of a stint on the disabled list with a strained left oblique.

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.