MLB Philadelphia Phillies: Evaluating the Hunter Pence Effect
The Philadelphia Phillies have been on a roll since acquiring the prize of the free agent market in Hunter Pence six days ago. The Phillies were able to drastically improve their lineup, while not losing any players from their current roster or top prospect Domonic Brown.
The Phillies desperately needed another right-handed bat to balance out their lineup, and Hunter Pence has proven thus far that he is the perfect fit. The Phillies lineup once again looks as potent and dangerous as ever and ready to make another run at a World Series.
Here are five ways in which Hunter Pence has affected this lineup in a positive way.
Hunter Pence has seemingly awoken a Phillies offense that has been sleeping for the better part of two seasons. When Pence scored the winning run against the Pittsburgh Pirates last Sunday, he showed the type of energy and enthusiasm that hasn't been seen here in quite awhile.
Pence proceeded to jump around waving his hands wildly for any player that would give him a high-five. If that wasn't awesome enough for Phillies fans, Pence had an awesome quote to Gary "Sarge" Matthews in the postgame interview when he said, "Good game, let's go eat!"
Pence has gone from the worst team in the league to the best and he clearly wants to do whatever he can to keep this team winning. The results have been great thus far as the Phillies are yet to lose a game with Pence in the lineup.
Pence is the blue-collar, gritty type of player that Philadelphia loves, and if he helps this team win another world championship...
We may have an official "bro-mance" on our hands here.
4. Balance to the Lineup
When Hunter Pence was acquired for three minor-leaguers and a player-to-be-named later, the Phillies lineup just looked like it was complete. Pence instantly filled the void that Jayson Werth left when he signed one of the most ridiculous contracts in MLB history with the Washington Nationals.
Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz all can hit right-handed, which allows Charlie Manuel to balance his lineup in a way that can be dangerous against left or right-handed pitchers.
I'll take Hunter Pence over Jayson Werth any day, and I'm sure the Washington Nationals would as well.
3. Killer Instinct
If you are a Philadelphia Phillies fan, you have probably realized that the Phillies rarely lose a series but they rarely have swept a series as well. The Phillies have failed to sweep the opposition 15 times this season when they’ve taken the first two of a three game series.
It seemed apparent that the Phillies were happy winning the series, while the opposition was adamant about not getting swept. Those two things combined meant a Phillies loss.
Pence arrived in Philadelphia for the second game of the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the game never felt in doubt despite the 7-4 final score. The final game of the series (the next night) looked as if the Phillies were sleep-walking through another series finale.
The Phillies trailed by two runs late in the game but Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer to score Pence, and than that combination struck again in extra-innings when Raul drove in Pence for the game winner.
It became apparent at that moment that the Phillies finally got the piece of the puzzle that they have been missing. They got Hunter Pence and they got back their killer instinct.
This team has been defined by their "swagger" and confidence during their reign as NL East Champions. Even though this team owned the best record in MLB before they even acquired Hunter Pence, they still often looked like they were often just going through the motions.
Hunter Pence is cherishing every moment he spends with the Philadelphia Phillies and that heart has reminded the veterans on this team how important every game is. Watch out Atlanta Braves, that deficit in the NL East will continue to get bigger and bigger.
2. Better All-Around Team
Domonic Brown is only 23-years-old and at this point in his career he still has a lot to learn at the plate and in the field. Hunter Pence brought not only his .308 average, 11 HR and 62 RBI to Philadelphia, but he also brought an experienced right-fielder who possesses an absolute cannon for an arm.
The Phillies now have two players in Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence that can cover a lot of space in the outfield and make opposing base-runners think twice about testing their arms.
Pence makes this team complete as a lineup and from a defensive standpoint.
1. The Big Piece to the Big Piece
The "Big Piece" Ryan Howard should send a box of chocolates to Ruben Amaro, Jr., as it is no coincidence that he has been spectacular since Hunter Pence arrived in Philadelphia. Howard finally has the protection that he has lacked all season long in Pence, who can hit for average and power.
In the five games since Pence has joined the club, Howard has gone 9 for 22 with four home runs, four doubles and nine RBI. Charlie Manuel's constant shuffling of players in the five-hole ended when Amaro acquired the best player at the trade deadline for the third straight season.
Since the Philadelphia Phillies acquired Pence, the message to the rest of MLB is clear: Be afraid, be very afraid.