MLB Trade Rumors: Why Hunter Pence Is the Best Player on the Market

Mark MillerCorrespondent IJune 14, 2012

MLB Trade Rumors: Why Hunter Pence Is the Best Player on the Market

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    The Philadelphia Phillies certainly got off to a slow start this season, and while their play has improved as of late, they still find themselves in the cellar of the NL East, nearly 10 games back of the surprising Washington Nationals.

    It's a long season, so you'd be hard pressed to say the Phillies are out of it, but some analysts, like ESPN's Buster Olney, seem to think the team will be aggressive sellers when the deadline approaches.

    Should they opt to unload some of their talent in favor of high-ceiling prospects, Hunter Pence's name will no doubt be a name that comes up as he is one of the best young players in the game that may be up for grabs.

Age

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    Any time a team is looking to make a mid-season acquisition it's very common to see a number of seasoned veterans that may be towards the end of a contract find their way into a new setting.

    But in the case of Hunter Pence, any team that would make a play for him would find themselves with an outfielder that's barely 29 and definitely has plenty of years left in the tank if they decide to make it more than a one-and-done.

Consistency

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    With a career .292 batting average in six seasons, Pence has displayed the consistency that a team in need of a final piece would be looking for.

    His on-base percentage has only dropped below .320 once during his career, and he's notched at least 70 RBI in each season.

    Add to that the fact that his rookie season was the only year that he played less than 154 games and his consistent ability to stay on the field continues to look more valuable.

Agressiveness

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    Having noted that Pence has a great ability to stay in the lineup on a daily basis, it's almost hard to believe how aggressive an outfielder he is.

    He's not afraid to go after balls in the outfield, and on the base paths he can at times show the same aggressiveness, with nearly 15 stolen bases per season in his first five years in the league.

Team Control

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    As mentioned, any team acquiring Hunter Pence wouldn't be renting him for a postseason push, only to see him walk away in free agency this offseason. He has one more year of arbitration ahead of him and won't enter free agency until 2014.

    If he continues to be a solid contributor, arbitration could yield a big payday, but it's still a far better situation than seeing your star leave shortly after arriving.

Power

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    At 6'4'' and 230 pounds, Hunter Pence certainly has the frame of someone who can drive the ball, and when he steps into the batter's box he's always made it a point to do just that.

    Pence has hit at least 22 home runs in all but one season (his rookie year) and has averaged more than 30 doubles per season along with it.

    With 13 home runs through 63 games in 2012, there's little doubt that Pence's ceiling could continue to grow as he matures as a hitter.

Defense

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    He doesn't have a Gold Glove to his name yet, but Pence is a strong defensive outfielder nonetheless, with 65 outfield assists in center field and right field.

    With 27 errors during that same point we can see that he's clearly not perfect, but with good range and nearly .990 fielding percentage he's a valuable player in the field.

Salary

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    As mentioned earlier, Pence won't be entering free agency until 2014, so any team that acquired him would have another season to work with before being forced to commit long-term or let him walk.

    Pence is making $10.4 million this season on a one-year deal with the Phillies, and while another season on a one-year deal could yield a similar or potentially higher number, it buys the team more time to put together an appealing offer.

The Total Package

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    There have been a number of positive aspects to Hunter Pence's game that on their own would make him a great candidate to get a contender in need of an outfielder over the final hump and deep into postseason play.

    But when you put together all of the tools that he brings to the ballpark and see the whole package, it's hard to miss with Pence.

    An asking price would surely be lofty, but considering all the things he can add to a lineup it'd be hard to say it wouldn't be worth making a play for one of the game's best young players.