Your local high school coach wouldn't know what to do with Hunter Pence at team tryouts. Pence throws a baseball like a shot put state champion and when he's in the box he moves around like the kid that really wants to dance at his first homecoming but has no idea what he's doing.
That coach better put Pence on his team, and not for comic relief. Pence is a three-time All-Star, two time-time World Series winner and has hit .390 in 11 Fall Classic games. The veteran is a presence with a positive aura and comes up clutch in the biggest spots.
The last two years, however, the 35-year-old has started to show his age. Over last season and 17 games this season, Pence is batting .250 with a .303 on-base percentage and .365 slugging percentage. In the short time that he has been healthy this year, Pence was batting a rough-to-look-at .172 for the Giants.
Is it time for Mr. Unorthodox to make a change? It looks like that's what Pence is doing during his rehab assignment in Triple-A. In a tweet sent out on Monday, you can see the changes in Pence's new swing.
Hunter Pence is experimenting with a new batting stance. Apparently he's been doing it for a few days, but I hadn't noticed until tonight. https://t.co/F2w3DwZOjT— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 15, 2018
When watching the video, the new swing stands out right away. To start with, Pence is usually in an open, spread out stance. We can see here he is standing tall with his feet much closer together and he appears just slightly open.
Pence has also changed where his hands initially start. He is holding the bat much lower and more upright. Ironically, this looks a lot like the man who may have stolen Pence's job if he was healthy right now -- Mac Williamson. Even Pence's leg kick is slower and less jerky, much like Mac's.
And the results have been positive in a small sample. While the video was released on Monday, it's key that Pence has been doing this for a few days before then. He returned to the River Cats' lineup two days before on Saturday, so we can assume the changes started then in games.
Since Pence's changes to his swing presumably began, he is hitting .467 (7-for-15) with two doubles, three RBI and two strikeouts. So far, so good.
It is still not yet known when Pence will join the Giants again or what the team will do when both he and Williamson are healthy. It was only yesterday that Williamson basically hit a batting practice home run to the moon and he could begin his rehab assignment this weekend as he progresses from his concussion.
The players and Bruce Bochy alike love Pence for what he brings to the team aside from the stats. At times, he looked completely lost this year. Even if he is never back to his old self, perhaps Pence and his new swing could be a boost off the bench for this team like another fan favorite has been in Pablo Sandoval.