In a season that saw more lows than highs, Hunter Pence was definitely one of the bright spots for this Texas Ranger team.

The finalists for the American League Comeback Player of the Year award were announced as Texas’ OF/DH Hunter Pence, SP Lucas Giolito of the White Sox, and OF Jorge Soler of the Royals.

Pence came to Texas on a minor league contract before the 2019 season, needing to earn a spot the team, going up against younger players in a crowded outfield. Playing in San Francisco for most of his career, he saw a decline in production, especially in 2018 when he hit just 4 home runs and 24 RBI in 97 games, the lowest of his entire career in both categories, albeit battling a thumb injury in the process.

In the first half of the 2019 season, Pence accumulated 15 home runs before he hit the Injured List with a groin injury after 55 games played. Despite the injury, Pence was named to the American League All-Star team as the DH, grabbing 46.7% of the DH votes with 607,126 votes, even though he never played in the game after re-aggravating his groin during a rehab assignment.

Hunter Pence Texas Rangers
Tim Heitman – USA TODAY Sports

In an interview during the season, I spoke with Pence after a game vs the Detroit Tigers that saw him hit his 16th home run of the season and his first since his return from his first stint on the injured list. I asked him about his role on the team, with young players making their way up to the big leagues trying to make a name for themselves.

JC: “We’re seeing some of the young guns come up from the minors, so how do you feel your role-plays into their development for the rest of the season?”

HP: “Oh it’s exciting, and… I’m going to be here to give them anything and everything I have and to also learn from them. ..To get here you know a lot and are really good and to be as much of support and offer as much love as I can.”

This sums up Hunter Pence in a nutshell. A very smart veteran that is willing to lead and learn from players that are trying to, in essence, become a Hunter Pence in the MLB. He established himself as a leader for this clubhouse from the very beginning, igniting a hot start for the Rangers that weren’t supposed to be very good. Pence finished the season with 18 home runs, 59 RBI, and a .297 batting average, his highest average since 2011 in just 83 games.

Pence grew up in the DFW metroplex, attending Arlington High School, and eventually University of Texas at Arlington. A local kid growing up to play for the Rangers with a chance to earn Comeback Player of the Year would huge both for Pence and a Ranger fan base looking for a bright spot to end the season with.

The winner for the award will be announced next week, and if the MLB is smart, Hunter Pence should win this award.

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