The Hunter Pence Effect

Phillies Phans, the Phillies have been covering for Charlie long enough. He and Ruben were given the keys to a Corvette. By 2004, Pat G’s organization had put together a nifty core of home grown talent that was taking baby steps towards jelling into the championship team of 2008. That core of players continued on as the heart and soul of our beloved Phillies that have packed CBP for more than 200 consecutive games.  In my opinion, the faces that come to mind when one pictured the Phils were Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino. Until recently, I considered them the de facto team leaders that fans and young players alike looked up to.

Then, a series of bad decisions changed the team that I love. I’ve always been fascinated by amazing young players and their potential accomplishments. It wasn’t long before my favorite Phillie was a 23 year old phenom from rural Florida that had set the minor leagues on fire the last few years. I took an interest and compared this kid’s minor league experience to those of Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr.. Domonic Brown blew them both away. Not even a contest. In 2010, Baseball America ranked Brown number one among all MLB prospects. Some scouts said he was the fastest they had EVER seen. Still others said the best arm ever.  Add to that best hand/eye coordination. Domonic was excited to take over RF from Jayson Werth in 2011 after hitting .346 with 20 HRs in AAA in 2010. His bio is on the Phillies’ website. Brown’s skills were already pretty sharp. See these:

But Charlie Manual, the self-professed hitting guru had an idea;  “Let’s change the kid’s swing. “He holds his hands too high.”  So Chas. And Rubin arranged for Dom to join a winter league in the Dominican Republic for Feb. 2011 to learn his new Utley-like stance and short swing. He spent a solid week doing nothing but hitting balls in the batting cage. It was exhausting and humiliating. OK, time to play baseball. Dom was so tired and screwed up from a week in the cage that he couldn’t get a hit. He batted.069. Maybe he should be allowed to give up on the stupid swing that obviously wasn’t working. Uh, NOPE!!  Finally, not being accustomed to failing, Brown left frustrated that his input meant nothing. That really ticked off Ruben. Here is what Harold Reynolds thinks of the swing change.            Here comes spring training. Now the rules have changed. Instead of Brown inheriting the position of right fielder, there will be a contest for RF. OK, but may Dom use his old proven swing? NOPE!!  He goes through all of ST without a hit. Then in his final AB he rebels and swings his old way. His good swing generated more bat speed and follow through. As his hands were starting to adapt to the new swing, the follow through broke the small hamate bone in his right hand. The bone had to be surgically removed.  As you can see here, that operation takes a year to recover from.  nd

Domonic platooned with Ben Francisco who can’t run or throw well, all the while nursing a sore hand. He played well enough to eventually claim the RF position. There were ups and downs. The team left the rookie hang out to dry on the “downs” as the Howard/Brown haters ate him alive.  Then on July 30, 2011 Domonic Brown was surgically removed after a good July batting .292 with lots of BBs and runs. Charlie had whined for a RH power bat to protect Howard in the 5 hole.  On July 30 before the trading deadline had expired, Ruben traded the organizations best prospects to the Astros for right fielder Hunter Pence, a clumsy guy with a healthy .312 average and 11 HRs, 8 of which were hit in April and May. Nine of the homers were off of righties as HP could never hit LH pitching worth a damn, but Charlie and the Howard /Dom haters pounded their knives and forks loud enough that Ruben had to oblige. Domonic with his sore hand was sent back to AAA. Sad and disgruntled Dom played poorly for the Iron Pigs.

When Hunter arrived, Todd Z in the interest of knowing more about Hunter did a short interview with his old Astros teammate Roy Oswalt. Roy said “Pence has to always be the leader and doesn’t play second fiddle to anybody.” The Phils who were already leading the majors in W/L enjoyed a honeymoon period with their new player in the lineup, but honeymoons end and as time goes by the new wife may not look as good as her pics. on e Harmony.  As it turns out, Roy Oswalt was prophetic as the team undeniably belongs to Hunter Pence now. He is the face of the Phillies. Below are figures which illustrate the effect Pence has had on the core players that I opined were the face and soul of the Phils prior to the worst trade the Phils have made since Ryne Sandberg. These figures were as of 9/24/11. I didn’t post this as soon as I had hoped to.


Became a Phillie July 30, 2011

Jimmy Rollins

BA     OBP     SLG    OPS  For Month

312     .375     .523     .898    July

261     .358      .362    .720    Aug.

.196   .229        .239    .468    Sept.

 Chase Utley

BA       OBP    SLG   OPS

.293     .369    .545     .914     July

.245     .315    .347      .662    Aug.

.175     .257    .286      .543    Sept.

 Shane Victorino       

BA     OBP      SLG   OP

.364      .462      .600   1 .062     July

.316      .393       .600     .993       Aug.

.163      .245       .272      .517     Sept.

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