Hunter Pence is a Giant, and he is getting ready to play his first game with his new team.
Yesterday, multiple reports confirmed that Pence was headed to San Francisco. He will play his first game as a Giant tonight, which is a great thing for San Francisco sports fans. The right fielder is hitting .271 with 17 homers and 59 RBI this year and will provide a spark to the Giants' offense.
Last year, Pence was traded from the Houston Astros to the rival Phillies and put on a show through four games at AT&T Park. Pence has a .329 batting average and five homers in 20 career games in San Francisco, and he can certainly get hits in the spacious ballpark.
Pence hits the ball into the gaps a lot, which will work to his advantage with AT&T's spacious outfield and Triples Alley. Since Buster Posey, Melky Cabrera and possibly Pablo Sandoval will hit in front of him, he will have plenty of opportunities hitting with guys on base.
Before Pence arrived, the Giants had Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco platooning in right field with Angel Pagan in center. Entering Wednesday's game (with the Phillies), Schierholtz had a .257 batting average, while Blanco was hitting a meager .242.
Both of those numbers are respectable, but neither measured up to what the Giants wanted. Schierholtz hit five homers, but he rarely connected for extra-base hits. He has a tendency to chase pitches and strand runners, which is something the Giants have a problem with. Blanco hit a couple homers, but is primarily a singles hitter.
While Blanco started the season very well, he cooled off in June and July. The journeyman outfielder hit leadoff and took a lot of walks earlier this year, providing a huge spark to the Giants' offense. However, after watching him play in later into the season, it's clear to almost everyone that he is just a utility outfielder who did a nice job filling a hole.
How Important Was the Pence Trade For SF?
Thankfully, the Giants patched up that hole. And all it took was a trade for Pence.
The Giants don't have a great leadoff hitter, and because of that, Marco Scutaro and Ryan Theriot will probably hit first and second. If they can get on base, they'll have Cabrera, Posey, Sandoval and Pence hitting behind them, which is something Giants fans will love and opposing pitchers will hate.
If one of those four players struggle, Angel Pagan or Hector Sanchez could hit sixth. Sanchez has a lot of power and is capable of batting sixth, while Pagan can effectively get on base and steal bags. Both won't play everyday, since Blanco will need time in the outfield and Posey is the Giants' regular catcher. However, when they do play, they can help a very deep lineup.
Bruce Bochy will have to sort through the mess and divide the playing time in a way he feels is fair, but no matter who plays, the Giants will have depth. They finally have the power hitter they've been lacking, and when he is paired up with Cabrera (who has the third-best batting average in baseball), Posey (who is hitting well over .300 with 13 homers) and Sandoval (who is hitting over .300), it will be hard to pitch to the Giants.
Ever since Barry Bonds retired, the Giants have been known for their superb pitching. Ryan Vogelsong has the best ERA in baseball, Matt Cain has thrown a perfect game, Tim Lincecum has won two Cy Youngs and Madison Bumgarner has 11 wins.
However, they aren't just a great pitching team anymore.
The Giants also have great hitting, which makes them a very well-rounded team. And, when you have a well-rounded team with stars, playoff experience and lots of talent, you have all the pieces in place for a championship run.