The Nationals’ walkoff win last night was set up by Denard Span stealing second in a 0-0 game in the bottom of the ninth. After the game, Span explained that his decision to run was really made by his alter ego. Yes, his brave alter ego. He explained it all to CSNWashington.com’s Chase Hughes:
“Denard is the guy that is passive, the guy that is afraid to make a mistake,” Span said. “Then he says ‘Span is the guy that is a playmaker. Span is the smooth guy, the guy that would talk to a girl.’ It’s like the Urkel and the Stefan [from Family Matters]. I just had to walk off and kind of hype myself up for a second. And then I came back to first and was: ‘let’s go.’” –
So I guess the job now is to figure out how to go all Bruce Banner with this and have “Span” be out all nine innings, while Denard can just be around before and after the game.
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.