With less than a month left in the season, the race for NL MVP remains a toss up and while Buster Posey will get his fair share of attention for the San Francisco Giants and deservedly so, Hunter Pence should also be mentioned in consideration for the award in 2014.
Most importantly, Pence has the numbers to justify MVP honors. The 2014 All-Star selection is hitting .295 with 19 home runs and 68 RBI’s so far this season. He is on pace to record just under 200 hits while potentially striking out less than 130 times. Further, he is heating up when it pays the most to do so. During the Giants recent six game winning streak, Pence killed it, hitting .500 with six RBI’s and seven runs scored.
Next, the Giants right-fielder has been the most durable player on the San Francisco roster in 2014. Injuries have been a major factor this season for the Giants but Pence has been the most consistent fixture in the lineup since opening day. The veteran has played in all but two games for the Giants this season and it’s safe to say that without Pence as the anchor, the Giants would have most definitely drown in their mid-season struggles.
Not only has Pence played in nearly every game but he has also been the most versatile Giant when it comes to where he is in the lineup. His versatility has allowed to him to fill and produce from the first, second, third and fifth spots in the lineup, which is a feat that could be done by very few hitters in baseball. While Posey and others have the numbers to match Pence, it is factors such as versatility and durability that make Pence the ideal candidate for NL MVP.
In addition to his versatility and durability, Pence is a pillar in the Giants’ clubhouse. His free and easy approach undoubtedly rubs off on his teammates and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Pence played a key role in the team not getting too down on itself during its struggles. San Francisco could have easily folded under the pressure of their meltdown but with a clubhouse anchored by guys like Pence, that just wasn’t an option.
Finally and perhaps most importantly is the comeback element. If the Giants are able overcome the Dodgers and win the NL West with Pence at the forefront, it will be impossible not to take notice of him as a serious MVP candidate. Unlike other NL MVP candidates like Giancarlo Stanton and Andrew McCutchen, whose teams are not likely to make the playoffs, Pence and the Giants appear to be a playoff lock. It just has yet to be determined whether they will be a Wild Card or NL West champ.
Pence’s numbers may not be enough to secure him the NL MVP by themselves but along with his durability, versatility, clubhouse presence, and the potential comeback element, Pence has all the makings of a legit MVP contender and it would be a shame if he wasn’t at least considered.