Hunter Pence: 6 Reasons the Houston Astros Should Sign Him Long-Term

Brandon Croce@@BrandonCroceAnalyst IMay 6, 2011

Hunter Pence: 6 Reasons the Houston Astros Should Sign Him Long-Term

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 30:  Hunter Pence #9 of the Houston Astros looks back ahome plate umpire Derryl Cousins after striking out in the fifth ining against the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park on April 30, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Houston Astros are a team in transition but there has been one constant over the past few years, and that has been Hunter Pence.

    He has been roaming the outfield for the past three years, and other than Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Lee, is one of the longer-tenured Astros.

    One of the important parts of rebuilding a team is knowing what players on your roster you want to keep and locking them up long-term.

    Hunter Pence is one of those players that does a lot of little things that helps your team be successful.

    I don't think he will ever develop into a top hitter but can be a very dangerous No. 2. Here are six reasons the Astros should lock Hunter Pence up long-term.  

Hasn't Hit His Prime Yet

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    HOUSTON,TX- APRIL 10 :  Hunter Pence #9 of the Houston Astros against the Florida Marlins in a MLB  baseball game on April 10, 2011 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea / Getty Images)
    Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    Hunter Pence is only 28 years of age and I think his best years are still ahead of him.

    He is in his fourth season, his third full season, and has really come into his own over the past year. He was named to his first All-Star Game last year and led the Astros last year in hits, home runs and RBI for the first time.

    It is always good to lock up a player long-term before they hit their prime and can hit the open market, as it will most likely cost the organization more.

Fan Favorite

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 08:  Right fielder Hunter Pence of the Houston Astros shakes hands with eleven year old Kendal Robinson during batting practice before the game against the Florida Marlins at Minute Maid Park on April 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Hunter Pence plays with heart and a lot of energy every game and it is hard not to root for the guy. This is why he has become such a fan favorite with the people of Houston.

    If the Astros allowed Pence to walk away, I am sure there would be a number of unhappy fans, and the organization would not be shown in favorable light in the media.

    Now, sometimes contract negotiations can get nasty, but if Pence's expectations are reasonable and the Astros let him walk, it would be an awful PR move.  

Possible Face of the Franchise

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 08:  An image of Houston Astros left fielder Hunter Pence is depicted on the outside of Minute Maid Park before the game against the Florida Marlins on April 8, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    In a time of transition it is important for an organization to commit to a player or two and make them the face of their franchise, and Hunter can be that guy.

    He was drafted by the Astros in the second round of the 2004 draft and has worked his way up through the organization.

    He has done everything the Astros asked, including moving from center field to right field after his rookie season.

    The Astros have seen tremendous turnover since their World Series appearance in 2005.

    Wandy Rodriguez is the only player still remaining from the squad, and while the Astros could make Wandy the face of their franchise, pitchers are only out there once every fifth game.

    Position players like Hunter Pence are out their every day, allowing fans to build a stronger connection.

Leadership

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 14:  Michael Bourn #21, Jason Bourgeois #11 and Hunter Pence #9 celebrate after the final out against the  San Diego Padres at Minute Maid Park on April 14, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The Astros lost their two most recognizable leaders last season when they traded away Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman.

    These guys were unquestionably the leaders of the clubhouse and when they left, there was a void of leadership.

    Even though Carlos Lee has been around longer, Hunter Pence leads by example with his hustle and energy, and I think he has become the leader of this club. I think it would be important for the Astros to show loyalty to their top players. 

Durability

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    HOUSTON,TX- APRIL 10 : Right fielder Hunter Pence #9  of the Houston Astros catches Wes Helms #18 of the Florida Marlins fly ball on the warning track in the second inning in a MLB  baseball game on April 10, 2011 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. (P
    Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    Through his major league career, Hunter Pence has been the definition of durable.

    Pence has only had one stop on the disabled list and it was during his rookie year that he missed about a month due to a bone chip in his wrist.

    Since that year, Pence has not had a serious injury and has played in over 155 games each season.

    When teams hand out long-term contracts, this is one factor they look at to see if the player can stay healthy over the life of the contract.

    Injuries are a very hard thing to predict but Pence has a pretty good track record of avoiding serious injuries to this point in his career.

Consistency

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    HOUSTON - APRIL 26:  Hunter Pence #9 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after hitting a home run in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Minute Maid Park on April 26, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bo
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Hunter Pence has been the definition of consistent over the past three years.

    Fans have come to know what they can expect from Pence and that is 25 home runs, around a .280 average and somewhere between 80-90 RBI.

    He plays hard and with a lot of energy every game, and doesn't make errors to lose games.

    Hunter Pence seems as sure of a bet of a player as a team could hope for, and the Astros should feel pretty confident handing out a long-term contract to him.