How Much Hunter Pence Will Actually Be Worth Through 2018

Around this time last season, the San Francisco Giants were playoff-bound. And about a month later, on October 28, 2012, the Giants were crowned as the World Series champs for the second time in three years.

But 2013 has been a humbling season for a team that won 94 games just a year ago. The Giants finished 10 games below the .500 clip in 2013 and witnessed injury-plagued seasons from Ryan Vogelsong, Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Angel Pagan. Oft-ace Matt Cain also posted a perplexingly lackluster campaign, hurling an 83 ERA+—41 points below his career rate.

The Giants were quick to look towards 2014, however. This past Saturday, the team announced a five-year, $90 million extension for outfielder Hunter Pence. Pence enjoyed an elite 2013 season, hitting to the tune of a 137 OPS+, 7.5% BB%, 27 HR and 22 SB.

Based on his recent production, in which he accumulated a 4.1 bWAR, Pence is easily worth $18 million per season. In fact, his 2013 season was worth $22.55 million. But considering Pence will be 31 on Opening Day 2014—and more importantly, 35 years old in the final season of his new contract—the Giants will quickly regret their desperate signing.

Borrowing the 5/3/2 approach (in which each of the past three seasons are weighed by 0.5, 0.3 and 0.2, respectively, and then the sum becomes a player’s weighted bWAR) from Bill Petti (via Tom Tango and Jeff Zimmerman), Hunter is a 3.5 bWAR player. And assuming 5% inflation from year-to-year for 1.0 bWAR, the below chart highlights Pence’s projected year-by-year bWAR and subsequent dollar values.

Year Age Proj. WAR $ / WAR Proj. Value Act. Salary
2014 31 3.0 5.8 17.4 16.0
2015 32 2.5 6.1 15.25 18.5
2016 33 1.8 6.4 11.52 18.5
2017 34 1.1 6.7 7.37 18.5
2018 35 0.4 7.0 2.8 18.5
54.34 90

According to the above chart, Pence could rapidly fall off in 2016, when he is 33 years-old. Even taking yearly inflation into consideration, the Giants will still likely be paying Pence about 40% more than he’ll produce over the next five years.


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