MLB: 4 National League Hitters Who Need to Have Big Second Halves

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Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

Jul 13, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) is congratulated by third base coach Tim Flannery (1) after a solo home run during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been the tale of two different tapes for Hunter Pence this season, but lately, he’s been tumbling.

But let’s start with the positives. From April 14 to May 30, Pence was an All-Star. He had a .307/.356/.524 batting line during that 42-game span which included a modest .336 BABIP (batting average on balls in play).

Since May 30, it’s been all downhill.

Pence has a batting line of .219/.259/.381 over his last 40 games, and his modest BABIP has decreased to .233. No, I wouldn’t chalk this all up to bad luck, but his BABIP is bound to increase.

To bring in some advanced metrics: Pence is last in the NL in wOBA (Weight On-Base Percentage) over the last 30 days and second-to-last in wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus). In English, well, he’s struggling. But we already knew that.

Pence’s tumble has coincided with the Giants’ fall to fourth place in the NL West. They’re 14-26 over Pence’s woes since May 30, and that’s not entirely coincidental. Of course Pence isn’t the only one steering San Francisco’s fate. Their pitching has been inconsistent, and Buster Posey has been their only consistent producer.

So no, it’s not fair to blame the Giants’ 43-51 on Pence, but he does need a big second half. His free-agent stock and the some of the Giants’ success are both contingent on the outcome.