After back-to-back terrible seasons Jeff Francoeur’s chances of returning to the majors looked so bleak that last month he decided to take up pitching at Triple-A for the Padres’ affiliate, but now San Diego is actually calling him up and presumably he’ll mostly serve as an outfielder.
Francoeur made seven pitching appearances at Triple-A, all as a reliever, posting a 4.26 ERA and 4/3 K/BB ratio in 6.1 innings.
As an outfielder he hit .294 with 15 homers and a .790 OPS, which looks decent until you consider that the average hitter in the Pacific Coast League has a .768 OPS. So he’s been slightly above average offensively, with his usual horrendous 82/18 K/BB ratio. In the majors he’s hit .226 with a .626 OPS in 229 games since 2012.
San Diego is in full-on sell mode, parting ways with Huston Street and Chase Headley already and likely moving Chris Denorfia next, but the 30-year-old Francoeur just isn’t a big league-caliber player at this point. Helluva guy, though, and I suppose if you’re going to be a horrible team with a gutted roster in the second half you might as well have some nice guys in the clubhouse.
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.