Interesting matchups abound in the Giants series, but the rightfielders in today’s game could be one of the more intriguing matchups. The comparison comes naturally from the fact that Nate Schierholtz and Hunter Pence were traded for each other last trade deadline. The comparison would seem to breakdown at that point.
Pence has been a solid everyday rightfielder for his whole career. He has never posted an OPS+ below 100 in a full season, and has a career mark of 117. Nate Schierholtz on the other hand has never played a full season. His career OPS+ mark is 99. Schierholtz was non tendered as a result of a poor season and Pence was not.
So why then is this matchup so intriguing? Digging into the numbers you can see that Schierholtz is perhaps a left handed Hunter Pence lite. Pence has a 13 point advantage in career batting average. Here is how it breaks down by age:
BABIP is interesting to stack next to the batting average.
The difference in batting average cannot be simply explained with BABIP, but the other factors include strikeouts and walk rate. But this is where the comparison gets eerie. This is the comparison of BB/K rates by age.
Now Nate Schierholtz is the lite version of Hunter Pence for a reason. Pence has more power. Pence has hit more than 20 home runs the past five seasons. Schierholtz’s career high is 9. Now the large gap has to do with the fact that Pence has hadn’t a season under 600 PA during that stretch and Schierholtz’s career high in PA is 362. But Pence does hit for more power as the chart here shows.
Now the other problem with this comparison is that Schierholtz has exhibited extreme platoon splits, and so there is no guarantee that his rate stats would hold over a full season of play. However, with Schierholtz smoking the ball early in the year perhaps there is a chance for a Pence like spike in BABIP to drive up his value for trade.