Pence with the Giants in 2015
|Born: April 13, 1983|
Fort Worth, Texas
|April 28, 2007, for the Houston Astros|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 21, 2020, for the San Francisco Giants|
|Runs batted in||942|
|Career highlights and awards|
Hunter Andrew Pence (born April 13, 1983) is an American former professional baseball right fielder and designated hitter. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, and San Francisco Giants. In the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft he was drafted in the second round by the Astros. Pence made his major league debut in 2007. He is a four-time All-Star, and was a member of the 2012 and 2014 World Series championship teams with the Giants.
Pence attended Arlington High School in Arlington, Texas. After playing outfield his first three years, he moved to shortstop his senior year. He attended Texarkana College for a year and was a designated hitter on the baseball team.
He transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) where he returned to the outfield for the UT Arlington Mavericks. He hit .347 as a sophomore in 2003 and was named a first-team all-conference outfielder. Despite missing 15 of UTA's 30 Southland Conference games the following year due to an injury at mid-season, he was still named the 2004 Southland Conference player of the year, leading the league with a .395 batting average. Pence still holds the conference record for doubles in a single series, with 5.
Pence was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 40th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft, but did not sign. In the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft he was drafted in the second round (64th pick overall) by the Houston Astros out of the University of Texas at Arlington. He played the 2004 season with the single A Tri-City ValleyCats in Troy, New York. During that year, Pence, along with current major leaguer Ben Zobrist helped lead the 'Cats to a 50-win season in the New York-Penn League, the second-most in ValleyCats history. That year, the 'Cats defeated the Brooklyn Cyclones in the first round, but lost to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the league championship.
In 2006 with the AA Corpus Christi Hooks, Pence batted .283/.357/.533 and hit 28 home runs, with 95 RBIs. He had 17 stolen bases, while being caught stealing only 4 times. In 2006, he was one of three outfielders named to the Baseball America Minor League All-Star Team. Pence began the 2007 season as the AAA Round Rock Express' center fielder, though he made a serious run to make the big league club out of spring training.
Pence made his major league debut as the Houston Astros center fielder on April 28, 2007, versus the Milwaukee Brewers and got his first major league hit and scored his first run. Pence's first home run in the majors was a grand slam, against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 5. Pence hit a dramatic walk-off home run against José Mesa of the Philadelphia Phillies in the bottom of the 13th inning at Minute Maid Park on July 3 in a 5-4 win. It was Mesa's only pitch of the game. Pence was named National League co-Player of the Week for May 14-20, after recording a 1.091 slugging percentage and .625 on-base percentage with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs.
On July 23, general manager Tim Purpura announced that Pence would be out with a small chipped bone fracture in his right wrist. On August 21, Pence was activated from the disabled list. At that point, despite having missed a month he was 4th among NL rookies in at bats. Pence led NL rookies in triples (9), and was 2nd to Ryan Braun in batting average (.322), on-base percentage (.360), slugging percentage (.539), and OPS (.899).
Pence was a unanimous selection to the 2007 Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team. The selection was the result of the 49th annual Topps balloting of Major League managers. Pence (15 points) came in third, and lost out to Braun (128 points) in the vote for the 2007 NL Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award by 488 major league players and 30 managers. He also lost out to Braun in the competition for the 2007 Baseball America Rookie of the Year Award, in the vote for the 2007 Players Choice NL Most Outstanding Rookie by their fellow major league players, and in the Baseball Prospectus 2007 Internet Baseball NL Rookie of the Year Award, with 16 first place votes, versus 666 for Braun.
After Michael Bourn was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Astros before the 2008 season, Pence moved to right field while Bourn took over in center. In his sophomore season, Pence set new personal single-season records in home runs (25), runs batted in (83), doubles (25), hits (160), and at bats (595). However, his batting average dipped to .269, his on-base percentage fell to .318, and his slugging percentage also fell to .466. Pence led the league in outfield assists with 16, committed 1 error, and had a fielding percentage of .997.
In his fourth season (2010), Pence batted .282 with 25 home runs, drove in 91 RBIS and played 156 games. For the week of August 30 - September 5, 2010, Pence was named National League Player of the Week for the second time in his career after batting .500 (11-for-22) and slugging .909 with two home runs.
Pence was named a 2011 All-Star as a reserve, the second time he made the All-Star team. He was brought into the middle of the game, threw out José Bautista from the outfield, and scored the National League's 5th run of the game. At the All-Star break, Pence was batting .321 with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs.
On July 29, 2011, the Houston Astros traded Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies for four minor-league players: first baseman Jonathan Singleton, right-handers Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid, and a player to be named later, determined to be outfielder Domingo Santana. On August 4, Pence hit his first home run as a Phillie, against Madison Bumgarner.
Pence finished fourth in the NL in batting average (.314; behind Jose Reyes, Ryan Braun, and Matt Kemp) and eighth in RBI, with 97. Pence made the playoffs for the first time in his career; however, the Phillies lost the 2011 National League Division Series to the eventual World Series-champion St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games.
On July 31, 2012, the Phillies sent Pence in a deadline deal to the San Francisco Giants. In return, the Phillies received Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin. On August 12, Pence hit his first home run as a Giant off Rockies' relief pitcher Rafael Betancourt. On August 21, despite Pence no longer being on the team, the Phillies went ahead with a previously-planned Hunter Pence bobblehead promotion.
Before Game 3 of the 2012 NLDS, with the Giants down 2-0 and facing elimination against the Cincinnati Reds, Pence gave his teammates a passionate pregame speech in the dugout shortly before the first pitch. The Giants ended up beating the Reds in 3 straight games to advance to the NLCS. His inspirational speeches have been credited by his teammates as helping them rally together during the Giants' postseason and to eventually win the 2012 World Series. His speeches have also become the source of good-natured ribbing between Giants teammates.
On July 13, 2013, Pence had a five-RBI game in a 9-0 Giants win over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. With two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning, Pence robbed Jedd Gyorko of a hit by making a diving catch to preserve Tim Lincecum's no-hitter. On August 27, Pence hit what, at the time, was the longest home run of the season to date. The ball hit a wall above the left field bleacher seats at Coors Field. According to ESPN Tracking, the ball traveled an estimated 476 feet.
Pence was named NL Player of the Month for September, hitting .293 with a .393 on-base percentage and 11 home runs and 32 RBIs. On September 10, Pence hit his 20th home run in the 1st inning and became the 7th San Francisco Giants player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season and the first since Barry Bonds in 1998. (Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, Jeffrey Leonard, Orlando Cepeda, and Glenallen Hill are the others.) On September 14, Pence lifted his first career Giants grand slam over the center-field wall at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles off of Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Stephen Fife and drove in a career-high 7 RBIs, helping propel the Giants to a historic 19-3 rout of their longtime rival the Dodgers. With the help of Brandon Belt's first career five-hit game, they scored the most runs in the history of Dodger Stadium. On September 16, Pence was named National League Player of the Week for the third time in his career, after hitting .448 with 6 home runs and 19 RBIs.
Pence started all 162 games during the 2013 season, becoming the first Giants player to do so since Alvin Dark in 1954, when the season was 154 games long. For the season, he batted .283/.339/.483 with 91 runs scored (9th in the NL), 27 home runs (4th), 99 RBIs (7th), and 22 stolen bases (9th) in 629 at bats (3rd).
On July 6, Pence was elected to his third All-Star Game. On the second-to-last game of the season, Pence was held out of the starting lineup, ending his streak of consecutive starts at 331. Pence pinch-hit in the seventh inning to continue his games-played streak.
On October 7, in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS against the favored Washington Nationals, Pence made a leaping catch against the right field wall in the 6th inning to deny Jayson Werth an extra-base hit. This dramatic play held the Giants' 2-1 lead, helping the Giants to secure an eventual 3-2 victory.
In Game 4 of the 2014 World Series, Pence went 3-5 with a double, scored two runs, had three RBIs including one by beating out a double play in the first leading to a run, scored on a fly caught by Jarrod Dyson in shallow center field, and made a nice sliding catch of a bloop hit by Lorenzo Cain in the ninth.
His performance helped lead the Giants to their third World Series title in five years, as San Francisco went on to beat the Royals 3-2 in Game 7. Pence finished the series batting .444 with 5 RBIs and 7 runs scored. He had 12 hits in the series and, along with teammate Brandon Belt, had at least one hit in every game of the 7 game series. Pence's performance drew some media comparisons to Barry Bonds, in terms of unusual statistical production.
On March 5, 2015, Pence suffered a fractured left forearm after being hit by a pitch during a spring training game against the Chicago Cubs. He started the regular season on the disabled list, ending his league-leading iron man streak of consecutive games played at 383. Pence started a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats on May 8 and was activated from the disabled list on May 16. Pence batted .282 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 18 games before returning to the disabled list on June 11 with left wrist tendinitis.
Pence was re-activated on July 7 and drove in two runs and started a double play after making a diving catch in a 3-0 victory over the New York Mets. On July 10, Pence hit an opposite-field grand slam off former teammate Cole Hamels, part of a 15-2 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies. Pence returned to the disabled list on August 20 with a left oblique strain and missed the rest of the season.
Pence was named National League Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career after batting .421 (8-for-19) with 2 home runs and 10 RBIs during April 25 - May 1, 2016. On May 14, Pence hit his 200th career home run in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. On June 1, Pence suffered a torn hamstring tendon of his right leg while running to first base, and was expected to miss at least eight weeks. In 2016 he batted .289/.357/.451 with 13 home runs in 395 at bats.
On May 15, 2017, Pence was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a troubling left hamstring. For the season, he had the lowest line drive percentage of all major league hitters (13.4%). In 2017 he batted .260/.315/.385 with 13 home runs in 493 at bats.
On April 3, 2018, Pence sprained his thumb while diving to make a play. Pence was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to the injury. In 2018 he batted .226/.258/.332 with 4 home runs in 235 at bats.
On February 7, 2019, Pence signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Texas Rangers. On March 21, the Rangers announced that Pence made the Opening Day roster. Pence was voted in as the starting designated hitter for the American League in the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Pence finished the 2019 season posting a .297/.358/.552/.910 slash line with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs over 286 at bats in 83 games.
On February 7, 2020, Pence re-signed with the Giants on a one-year, $3 million contract. After starting the season by hitting .096/.161/.250 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs over 56 plate appearances, Pence was designated for assignment on August 23, 2020, after the team's acquisition of Daniel Robertson. He was released by the Giants the next day.
On September 26, 2020, Pence officially announced his retirement from professional baseball.
Also in 2013 he was diagnosed with Scheuermann's disease, a spinal disorder that usually develops in adolescence. It was not discovered in Pence until his physical before signing a five-year $90 million contract with the San Francisco Giants in September.
Pence is the San Francisco host for Big League Impact, an eight-city fantasy football network created and led by longtime St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright. In 2015, the organization raised more than $1 million for various charitable organizations.
He cuffs his pants higher than almost any player, at the knee, the way it was done a century ago.