The case for Hunter Pence
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In my mind, San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is one of the most underrated players in fantasy baseball this season.

You never hear his name mentioned in any the "best of" or "top 10" lists, and in current Yahoo drafts his ADP (average draft position) is a low 55.

But Pence gets results.

Let me explain why at that price he's one of the best bargains in baseball.

In 2013, there were just three members of the 25-home run, 20-stolen base club. You know two of the names very well - superstars Mike Trout and Carlos Gonzalez.

Trout is a consensus No. 1 overall selection in most fantasy leagues. In his first two full seasons, Trout has averaged 28.5 homers, 90 RBI, 119 runs, 41 stolen bases and a .324 batting average. His spot at or near the top of every list is well deserved.

Gonzalez (Yahoo ADP 6) struggled with injuries last season, yet in his 110 games still managed to post a .302 average with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 72 runs and 21 steals. He's never played more than 145 games in a season, but if he could stay healthy for 162 games, he could easily become the next 30-30 guy.

The final member of last year's 25-20 club was Pence.

Pence is the least glamorous of the trio. In the batter's box, he looks like a huge praying mantis. He has an awkward-looking swing, nothing like some of today's smooth-swinging sluggers.

But he puts up quality statistics.

Over the past six seasons, he's averaged .280 with 25 home runs, 91 RBI, 85 runs and 13 steals.

Last season, he played all 162 games, batting .283, with 27 home runs, 99 RBI, 91 runs and 22 stolen bases.

The perfect attendance record in 2013 was not a fluke. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2008, Pence has never played fewer than 154 games (eat your heart out, Carlos).

Pence will once again be slotted in the middle of the Giants' lineup. He'll likely bat fifth behind Buster Posey and in from of Pablo Sandoval and newly acquired Michael Morse. The addition of Morse along with the big step forward taken by first baseman Brandon Belt makes the San Francisco lineup, which in the past has struggled to score runs, much more powerful.

Which in turn should help Pence improve on last year's performance. We've projected Pence will bat .287 with 29 home runs, 89 runs, 101 RBI and 20 stolen bases this season.

Those are quality numbers which any fantasy owner would be happy to have in his lineup.

And because he plays every single day, Pence is a "set it and forget it" fantasy option. Put him in your lineup on Opening Day and you won't have to think about him until October.

That's hassle-free production which will still be available in the sixth round. What more could a fantasy owner ask for?




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

Powered by The Sports Network.