The trading deadline has come and gone, and the eleventh hour craziness we were all looking forward to certainly didn't disappoint. Oh, what a time to be an obsessive Twitter junkee. Among the major moves this morning, the Phillies traded outfielder Hunter Pence to the Giants for fourth outfielder Nate Schierholtz and two minor leaguers. This marks the second year in a row that Pence has been dealt at the deadline, and his acquisition is intended to provide a power boost to a Giants team that has hit a measly sixteen home runs(!) in their home park this year.
The transition to spacious AT&T Park will likely hurt Pence's power output, but not quite as much as you might think. The Giants' bay side stadium decreases home runs by 17%, but as black holes go, it's a bit discriminating. The park absolutely squelches lefty power (lefty home runs decrease by a whopping 32 percent), but is less of a killer for right-handed power (-4%). Pence will likely see more of his deep fly balls eat leather now than he did at smallish Citzens Bank Park, but not enough to make you think twice about keeping him in your everyday lineup or shopping for an upgrade. Pence's batting splits over the course of his career don't indicate that he's a creation of the two home run-friendly ballparks he's called home, either.
My only quibble with Pence, and I've had this quibble since he entered the league, is that, as a free-swinging, low walk guy, he's a bit more susceptible to swings of bad luck and can be a bit streaky. That streakiness has been evident this year, as he has sandwiched two atrocious months (April and July) around two months (May and June) where no one could get him out. His walk rate has been all over the map throughout his career, but he's generally an aggressive hitter with an unspectacular OBP. That means that he could be a few BABIP fluctuations away from a .250/.290/.390-type of season, which I fear might be more of a possibility with the shift to a tougher hitter's park.
--Keeper league owners who are stashing Tommy Joseph should be overjoyed. Joseph was sent to the Phillies in the Pence trade, and his new home should be beneficial for a variety of reasons. First, he gets out of Buster Posey's shadow. With Posey firmly ensconced at catcher for the next decade, it wasn't clear at all where Joseph would fit in with the Giants, other than perhaps as the most hilariously overqualified backup catcher in the game. The trade opens up the road to a big league job, as Carlos Ruiz is 33 and won't be around forever. Citizens Bank Park is, again, much more power-friendly than AT&T, so if he keeps hitting for the same kind of pop he's shown thus far, it won't undermined by his ballpark.
--Shane Victorino was the other Phillie to depart the City of Brotherly Love, as he was sent to the City of Angels for reliever Josh Lindblom and a minor leaguer. One bit of interesting trivia: did you know that Victorino was originally drafted by the Dodgers, way back in 1999? That's right, he toiled in LA's minor league system for about five seasons (mixing in a brief sniff with the Padres) before being selected by the Phils in the 2004 Rule V draft, making him one of the more successful picks in that draft's history.
After a career year in 2011, Victorino has seen his production sink to the point where he's a barely adequate fantasy outfielder. The 24 stolen bases keep him on the fantasy radar, but his triples-power and ability to fill the stat sheet have been lacking this year. The .261/.324/.401 line is a career-worst for the Flyin' Hawaiian. His line driive rate has also sunk to a career-low, at 14%, which is...ominous.
There's no reason to think that his numbers will improve just due to the different ballpark, as Dodger Stadium is more friendly to pitchers. However, if you believe in the whole change of scenery thing, it's possible he could pull a Christian Slater in True Romance and find new life in a Los Angeles, especially hitting in front of Matt Kemp.
--The trade of Jonathan Broxton to the Reds opens up Kansas City's closer spot, so if you're like me and are in desperate need of saves, jump on Greg Holland like a starving wolf. Holland got off to a horrid start this year, but since the start of May, he's been his usual high-strikeout self. I particularly love his ability to combine a high strikeout rate with an otherworldly ability to limit home runs. In just under 40 innings this year, he's given up just one bomb, and he's surrendered just seven total in 118.1 career innings pitched.
A closer who avoids the gopher ball to this extreme is especially valuable, I think, because the opponent can't tie a game and earn him a blown save with one swing of the bat. Holland is kind of under-the-radar, but he could be one of the best closers down the stretch this year. If he's still available, pounce.