Giants

Giants' Hunter Pence leads active MLB players in this obscure stat

Giants' Hunter Pence leads active MLB players in this obscure stat

There aren't many offensive stats where the 2019 Giants stood out, but when it came to game-winning hits, they truly were dominant. The Giants had eight walk-off wins, accounting for nearly a quarter of their victories at Oracle Park. On the flip side, they got walked off just twice. 

There are few things better than a walk-off win, with the fans going crazy and teammates gathering at the plate or storming that night's hero as he rounds a base. Occasionally you get a pie thrown in or a water jug. 

The website Stats Perform did a deep fun dive into walk-off life last week, looking back at players who have the most walk-offs and also some memorable ones -- including, unfortunately, Nolan Arenado's walk-off homer against the Giants to clinch the cycle. They also discovered that a current Giant is is atop the leaderboard for a very specific stat.

There are four players who have at least four walk-off doubles since 1974, including Hunter Pence, who is tied with Adrian Gonzalez for the most walk-off doubles (5) over the past 45 seasons. Eric Hosmer and Brian Giles both have four.

It turns out Pence was quite the walk-off double machine in Houston, getting three in his first five seasons. He had two in his first stint as a Giant, and both were ironically against Padres lefty Brad Hand. You actually might remember both of them, because neither was your traditional double into the gap. 

The first came May 23, 2016, when Pence hit a two-out pop-up that Matt Kemp misplayed. Instead of pouting, Pence busted it into second. Brandon Belt raced al the way around from first for the game's only run. It was one of the weirder Giants wins in recent memory, but fits right in with that first half of 2016, when the Giants could do no wrong and the Even Year vibes were in the air:

The second one came two years later, when Pence squeezed a grounder inside the first base line for a game-winner. That one was memorable for the wild celebration that included Pence's jersey getting ripped apart:

That second one gave Pence 11 career walk-off hits, the second-most among active players since his debut in 2007. 

[RELATED: Giants extend pay for minor leaguers]

Are these all extremely obscure stats? Yep, but that's why we love -- and miss -- baseball. The numbers are a big part of the game, and now you know that if the Giants return this summer and Gabe Kapler sends Pence up with a chance to win the game, you're watching the King of the Walk-off Double. 

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MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

It's extremely common to hear about a player opting out in baseball. Stars have often had opt-out clauses for the final year of their deals, and in recent years many have given themselves the ability to opt out after just a year or two of a massive contract. At the end of every spring, non-roster invitees opt out to look for a better opportunity elsewhere. 

But this season, those two words take on a different meaning. 

Under a March agreement reached by MLB and the Players Association, high-risk players can opt out of the 2020 because of coronavirus concerns and still get paid. Players who are not deemed to be at a high risk can also opt out while surrendering their 2020 salaries and service time.

On the first day of the week MLB was set to return, four players opted out. Here's a rundown of where the list currently stands as of July 10.

Mike Leake (Diamondbacks starting pitcher)

The 32-year-old was the first to publicly make his intentions known. Leake's agent told reporters that the right-hander "took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family." There has been some speculation that Leake had family concerns; his father was paralyzed in an accident a few years ago and that's in part why he ended up close to home with the Diamondbacks.

Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals first baseman)

Zimmerman is exactly the type of player you would think of when it comes to guys who had a difficult decision to make in recent weeks. He's 35 and now is a part-time player, and he's set for life financially and got his ring last October. In a statement put out by his agency, he made it clear this is about concerns for his family, which includes a mother with multiple sclerosis:

Joe Ross (Nationals starting pitcher)

Ross, a 27-year-old Bay Area native who is the younger brother of Tyson, also opted out June 29. He did not immediately release a statement. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Zimmerman and Ross decided "not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. We are 100 percent supportive of their decision to not play this year."

Ian Desmond (Rockies outfielder)

The 34-year-old announced his decision at the end of a series of Instagram posts that examined injustices in baseball and society. It was a powerful statement, and one you should read in full here:

View this post on Instagram

On my mind.

A post shared by Ian Desmond (@i_dez20) on

Tyson Ross (free agent starting pitcher)

It was a bit of a surprise when Ross was released by the Giants last week. As a veteran who could start or come out of the bullpen, he seemed like a good fit for what they were building in March, and an even better fit in a season with no true five-man rotation. But this seems to explain the decision: 

David Price (Dodgers Pitcher)

Price announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season on social media during the holiday weekend. The southpaw didn't get specific on the reasoning behind it, but said the decision was in the "best interest of my health and my family's health." 


Felix Hernandez (Braves pitcher)

Another former Cy Young award winner has decided not to play during the 2020 MLB season.

Felix Hernandez, who won the 2010 AL Cy Young while with the Seattle Mariners, won't suit up for the Atlanta Braves this season, he agent tweeted Saturday night.

After spending the first 15 seasons of his career with the Mariners, Hernandez signed a minor-league contract with Atlanta this offseason. He will turn 35 next April, when the 2021 MLB season is expected to start.

Nick Markakis (Braves outfielder)

Markakis on Monday morning decides to opt out of the 2020 season, the Atlanta Braves announced. 

This comes after Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman tested positive, which was a big factor in the veteran's decision. Markakis, 36, hit .285 with nine homers last season for Atlanta.

Hector Noesi (Pirates pitcher)

Noesi on Wednesday opted out of the 2020 season, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton announced.

Noesi, 33, went 0-3 and posted an 8.46 ERA across 12 appearances with the Miami Marlins last season.

Buster Posey (Giants catcher)

The Giants catcher became the biggest name to opt out of the MLB season to date, announcing Friday he won't play in 2020. Posey and his wife just adopted twin girls who were born prematurely last week, and he cited their health as his primary concern.

"After weighing it for a long time, talking to doctors, I just feel like in the current state that we are right now and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months, at minimum, this ultimately wasn't that difficult a decision for me," Posey said. From a baseball standpoint, it was a tough decision, from a family standpoint and feeling like I'm making a decision to protect our children, I feel like it was relatively easy."

Jordan Hicks (Cardinals Pitcher)

Jordan Hicks was originally planned to miss a chunk of time in the 2020 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in June of 2019. But he's also a Type 1 Diabetic which as Belleville News-Democrat reporter Jeff Jones says, could lead to complications from coronavirus. 

What Chadwick Tromp's minor league stats tell us about Giants catcher

What Chadwick Tromp's minor league stats tell us about Giants catcher

The Giants once again have a three-man race at catcher, even after Buster Posey opted out of the 2020 MLB season. And no, we're not talking about top prospect Joey Bart right now. 

Tyler Heineman and Rob Brantly always were expected to compete as Posey's backup going into the season. Now, 25-year-old Chadwick Tromp (that's with an o, not a u) has entered the race with a red-hot bat in Summer Camp. 

There's reason to understand why many fans are wondering who Tromp is, and might not have heard of him at all. The Giants signed the Aruba native to a minor league contract in January with an invite to spring training, and he only had one hit in 10 at-bats. He has taken complete advantage of this second go-around though, ever since players arrived at Oracle Park on July 1.

Tromp was a late addition to the Giants' 60-man roster, joining the party on July 4. On Sunday, he displayed the kind of power that has opened eyes around the coaching staff. The right-handed hitter homered twice -- once off righty Jeff Samardzija and once off lefty Sam Selman -- in San Francisco's Black-Orange scrimmage. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Tromp is a bit of an unknown among Giants fans. So, what does his past tell us about the possible next Giants starting catcher? 

Shoulder surgery ended Tromp's season early in 2018 after hitting .264 with just two home runs in 53 games for Triple-A Louisville as a member of the Cincinnati Reds' organization. The injury kept him off the field until mid-Summer when he went to the Arizona Rookie League on a rehab stint. There, Tromp hit .271 with two homers, five doubles and a .910 OPS before joining Louisville in mid-July. 

Tromp, who always has been seen as strong defensively with a keen eye at the plate, had a power resurgence his second time in Triple-A. He homered in both of his first two games back with Louisville and turned July into his own Home Run Derby. The catcher hit .385 with six long balls, 14 RBI and a 1.077 slugging percentage in just nine games. 

In Louisville's first game in August, he went deep again. Tromp homered in five straight games from July 26 through Aug. 2, and knocked in 12 runs. 

[RELATED: Posey's leadership will be missed but won't be forgotten]

And then, he never homered again the rest of the year. Tromp hit just .196 with 18 strikeouts over 16 games in August. It was far from the dominant display he showcased the month before. 

Tromp, who's a stout 5-foot-8 and 221 pounds just turned 25 in March. He hasn't made his MLB debut yet, and has gone through two extended stints in Triple-A. The last time he hit over .300 in a season was 2017 in Advanced Single-A. He also played for the Netherlands this offseason in the Premier 12 and went deep against the Dominican Republic, but struggled over just eight at-bats.

Tromp's minor league stats are far from dominant with a .702 career OPS, but he has shown the ability last season and in Summer Camp to catch fire at the plate.

More than anyone looking to get a fresh start, Tromp is coming in with a clean slate for the Giants. Even newcomers like Darin Ruf have more of a history the Giants can go off of. It only makes sense with everything going on that a wild card like Tromp finds himself having a chance to the lead this team behind the plate. 

From Buster to Chadwick, the Giants might have their next perfectly weird name to announce to a crowd of nobody, and he's taking advantage of the opportunity.