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Hunter Pence: The Safe Man's Bet

Few players have been as consistent as Hunter Pence has been over the past 3 seasons. He'll give you 25 HR and umpteen odd steals. With such steady production he is safe pick to finish somewhere just behind the game's top tier outfielders. This may be a nice place to find a safe investment that could pay big dividends.

more on Pence after the jump...

Hunter's value is fixed in owner's minds to be what he has been his entire career, a little of this and a bit of that. For years Pence was undervalued and a few owners got solid numbers at a good price. After at 2010 where he finished just outside of the top 10 OF in many formats he is getting serious attention for the first time in his career.

In some leagues there will be owners expecting another step forward and they will be willing to draft him when guys like Werth and Kemp begin to come off the board. There is hope for another surge as he showed modest gains in power after the break. If he can maintain the progress he made with getting the ball up more often he could produce 28-30 HR. He has the HR/FB rate to be a 30 HR guy but he puts the ball on the ground like he was Juan Pierre. His AVG skills are strong enough that he could afford to put the ball in the air more often and exchange AVG for a few HR. I would think 30 HR 15 SB .270 AVG could be possible if he makes an effort to go yard more often.

He has a career .287 AVG and has stolen double digit bases every year in the bigs so he adds value in those areas. The stolen bases peaked at 18 last season after posting 11,11,14 the years before. He has been caught 35 times in 89 tries so it is unlikely he will be able to better his total from a year ago and he should be somewhere in the mid to lower teens. The AVG won't go under .270 and .300 is possible if he gets some luck on balls in play. Hitting in the Astros lineup isn't going to do his R/RBI totals any favors and he could see a drop from the 93/91 he put up last year to something in the 80/80 range. Considering he is the primary run producer in Houston he should be able to keep those numbers fairly stable. Carlos Lee is going to have to slow his decline if Pence hopes to have any protection in the lineup.

Being a good bet to finish in the top 20 OF he is a fine pick but he may have a high price in your league. His lowest production should be about 22 HR .270 AVG 12 SB with a ceiling around 30 HR .280 AVG 15 SB. If you want to bullish on him I suggest expecting no more than what he gave you last year. Taking away a few SB and adding a few HR is a likely scenario but it's just as likely the SB drop and the HR stay the same. In the end it comes down to how valuable you think consistency is because at the most you will get a small bargain and at the least you'll get what you paid for.