Baseball’s lost treasures

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My brother used to like to go through old junkyards, because he was convinced that if he looked under the seats of an old rusted out junker he’d find a 1952 Mickey Mantle card or something. I used to tell him he was crazy, and maybe he was. But he was adamant that if you looked hard enough through junk, you’d eventually find treasure. I don’t know if he ever will, but you have to admire his optimism.

And maybe it’s warranted optimism. Because a lot of baseball memorabilia, knickknacks, oddities and collectibles have basically vanished. Today at Fox’s JABO, Erik Malinowski writes about several of them that have simply vanished. Things like The homer run ball Bill Mazerowski hit in the 1960s World Series. Joe Jackson’s admission in the Black Sox scandal. Even a giant statue of Babe Ruth:

It is these little moments, the moments that go beyond sheer happenstance and more toward outright serendipity, that make the history of baseball so richly compelling. And when you stop and consider that there is a whole other layer of lost knowledge that doesn’t make it into most of the mainstream books, that’s when you realize that any time you open a dusty trunk and rummage through a backwoods yard sale, there’s always that one-in-a-million chance you’ll stumble upon something greater.

Maybe the Ruth statue wouldn’t fit in a dusty trunk or under the seats of a car in a junkyard, but the idea still holds. Good read.

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.