Kenny Van Doren, Site Expert
As the youngest writer on staff, I will not be telling you about an all-time great or a long time Astro. The era I watched growing up consisted of 100-loss seasons, rebuilds, and hidden gems. Growing up, everyone modeled their little league careers after that one player that made you love the child’s game. For me, that player was Hunter Pence.
The former Astros outfielder played 5 seasons in Minute Maid Park, before the team traded him and cash to the Philadelphia Phillies for Domingo Santana, Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton and Josh Zeid. In reality, this trade was awful and showed how unbearable the 2011 season was for Astros fans. Pence was the everyday right-fielder for the Astros from 2007 until 2011 when he was traded, and during that time he made great, diving catches in the gap.
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At the plate, his unorthodox wide-open batting stance was one of my favorites to mock in batting cages as a 10-year-old, but it went farther than that. His unbalanced, awkward stance would lead to great numbers at the plate for the Astros. While slashing .290/.339/.479, Pence made two All-Star games and had some of his best numbers of his career as an Astro. His high socks and lengthy approach made him so versatile from the base paths to the field.
I liked to compare myself to the speedy outfielder, as I modeled my game off of him. Like many kids, I wanted to be an MLB player when I grew up, but although I didn’t make the cut, Hunter Pence was one of the first players to help me build a love for the game. The 14-year veteran retired this offseason, as we all say goodbye to our heroes at some point, it is time to welcome in the future of the game.