Stats & Info: Hunter Pence

AP Photo/Chris SzagolaMadison Bumgarner two-hit the Mets on Sunday for his second career shutout.
Entering Sunday’s game, Bartolo Colon was looking to make history for the New York Mets as they hosted the San Francisco Giants, going for his 200th career major league win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he would’ve been just the third pitcher to get his 200th win in a Mets uniform, joining Orel Hershiser and Pedro Martinez.

But it was Madison Bumgarner who stole the show, throwing a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts on just 94 pitches. It was Bumgarner’s second career shutout. He also one-hit the Reds back in June 2012.

Bumgarner’s shutout was very efficient. More than half of his pitches (55 percent) were fastballs, the highest percentage he’s had in an outing since the 2011 season. Mets hitters were 1-10 with four strikeouts and no hard-hit balls against his fastball.

He also threw nearly 80 percent (79.8) of his pitches for strikes. That’s the second-highest percentage he’s had in a game in his career. The highest came in a 2011 start in which he pitched just one-third of an inning.

Back on Friday, Ryan Vogelsong threw a two-hitter against the Mets in a win. According to Elias, this was just the third time a team has ever had two complete-game two-hitters or better in the same series against the Mets. The others were by the 1965 Dodgers (Sandy Koufax and Claude Osteen) and the 1963 Dodgers (Koufax and Don Drysdale).

The Giants' offense also came alive in the game, putting up nine runs with four homers. The long ball has been lacking for San Francisco recently. Over their previous 10 games entering Sunday, the Giants mustered just two home runs, going 3-7 over that 10-game stretch while averaging 2.3 runs per game.

Hunter Pence had a pair of home runs for the Giants out of the leadoff spot. He’s the first Giant with a multi-home run game since Brandon Crawford did so back on May 4. He’s also just the second Giants leadoff hitter with a multi-HR game in the past five seasons, joining Nate Schierholtz.

Buster Posey added four hits and three RBIs for the Giants. Over his previous 10 games, he was just 8-for-34 with one RBI.

Pence gets exactly the pitch he needed

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
Wednesday on, writers discussed the importance of Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval to the San Francisco Giants’ playoff chances. But let’s not forget their wins above replacement leader, Hunter Pence.

Pence’s bloop three-run double against Jonathan Papelbon gave the Giants a lead and an eventual 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Papelbon has now pitched twice against the Giants in the past two days and allowed four earned runs. He has allowed only five runs in 38 1/3 innings against every other team in the majors combined.

Pence’s hit made him 3-for-4 in his career against the Phillies closer and gave him an NL-best 125 hits this season. He’s also now 10-for-25 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Inside the at-bat
Pence survived a close call on a 2-2 slider that was just below the bottom of the strike zone, than fouled off another pitch before hitting a 93-mph tailing fastball near the inside corner into a vacant spot down the right-field line.

That was probably the last place in which Papelbon wanted to attack Pence with two strikes.

Pence has 16 hits, second-most in the majors, and made only 17 outs on pitches that fit the following criteria:
    - 93 mph or faster
    - on the inner third of the plate
    - from a right-handed pitcher

Both Pence’s double and Posey’s game-tying home run on Tuesday came against that type of pitch from Papelbon.

Pence’s 2014
Pence has lived up to the big contract he signed with the Giants last season (five years, $90 million), hitting .304 with 13 home runs and an .840 OPS in 2014. He leads the NL in runs scored and is someone who is thriving at a time when offensive numbers are declining.

Pence’s basic skills (strikeout rate, walk rate, home run rate) are almost identical to what they were last season, but the results have actually been a little bit better, thanks to a .300 batting average when he hits a ground ball (last season, he hit .263).

Pence currently ranks fifth among those whose primary position is right field with 3.3 wins above replacement (his defense rates a hair below average). Last season, he ranked as the ninth-best right fielder, with 3.9 WAR.

Stat of the night (amazing but true)
The last time a Giants player got a hit to break a scoreless tie in the ninth inning or later in Philadelphia was May 15, 1989, when Will Clark hit a go-ahead home run against Steve Bedrosian in the 12th inning.

Amazingly, the Giants lost that game on a three-run, inside-the-park home run by Bob Dernier in the bottom half of that inning.

However, they would go on to win the National League pennant.

Top things to know: Dodgers at D'Backs

September, 18, 2013

Jake Roth/USA TODAY SportsDon Mattingly has the Dodgers on the verge of a 3rd division title in the last 6 years.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks play the third game of a four-game series in Phoenix tonight (10 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). Arizona needs only one win in the next two days to win the season series for the third straight year.

Here are a few storylines you might hear about during the broadcast.

1. The Dodgers magic number to clinch first place in the NL West is two, meaning they can clinch with a win tonight.

This would be LA’s third division title in the last six years. However, in each of the last two instances (2008, 2009) the Dodgers were eliminated in the NLCS by the Philadelphia Phillies.

2. The Dodgers have overcome a number of injuries this season. In fact, they’ve used the DL 25 times, more than any other team in the Senior Circuit.

Matt Kemp made his first start off the DL Tuesday night and posted his first four-hit, three-RBI game since Sept. 26, 2012. This was also the fifth such game of his career (four have come against NL West opponents).

3. Paul Goldschmidt has belted five home runs and 18 RBIs off Dodgers pitching this season. His RBIs are tied with Colorado's Michael Cuddyer and San Francisco's Hunter Pence for the most among all players against Los Angeles this season.

In addition, Goldschmidt is riding a seven-game hitting streak that has seen him hit .566 (15-for-27) with nine RBIs.

4. The Diamondbacks have won their share of dramatic games this season. Arizona has 16 extra-inning wins, most by an NL team since the 1999 Atlanta Braves (17) and their 13 walk-off wins are a club record.

Misc. Notes
• Yasiel Puig is hitting .554 on the first pitch of an at-bat this season, the highest average in the majors (minimum 50 plate appearances).

• Arizona’s Didi Gregorius has had a solid rookie season. Among NL rookies, only Yasiel Puig (.401 to .328) has posted a higher OBP (minimum 300 at-bats).

• Opponents are hitting .071 (4-for-56) with runners in scoring position this season against Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen.

Soriano leads August's HR highlights

September, 1, 2013
Illustration by Trevor Ebaugh

With August in the books, here's a look at the month's most notable performers when it came to homer hitting, with a quick peek ahead to the top September homer-hitting storyline.

Soriano was most prolific
Alfonso Soriano tied Miguel Cabrera with an MLB-high 11 home runs in August. He has 12 home runs since being traded to the Yankees on July 26, including 8 at Yankee Stadium.

Soriano has taken advantage of the dimensions at Yankee Stadium, hitting three home runs to the opposite field, after hitting no opposite field home runs at Wrigley Field in his previous five seasons.

As you can see in the image above, Soriano's average homer distance is considerably shorter at Yankee Stadium than it was in the more spacious and more windy Wrigley Field.

Pence goes longer than anyone
Hunter Pence’s 476-foot home run at Coors Field on Aug. 27 was the longest home run in the majors this season. It was a career-long for Pence and the longest by a Giant in the eight-year history of ESPN Home Run Tracker.

It surpassed a pair of 475-foot homers, by Anthony Rizzo and Mark Trumbo.

This season, no one hits homers harder or longer then Pence. He has the highest average home run distance (422.6 feet) in the majors, the fastest average speed off the bat (108 mph).

Pence hit two of the four longest home runs in August, including a 459-foot blast at Marlins Park on Aug. 18. He is tied for the major-league lead this season with three home runs of at least 450 feet.

Previewing the AL home-run chase
Entering September, Miguel Cabrera trails Chris Davis by four home runs for the AL home run lead. Cabrera stands a strong chance to capture consecutive AL Triple Crowns if he can catch Davis.

Entering last September, Cabrera trailed Adam Dunn by five home runs and proceeded to hit 11 the rest of the season, finishing with a major-league-high 44. In the previous three September/October’s, Cabrera averaged six homers. But Davis kept pace with Cabrera at the end of last season, hitting 10 in the final month.

Davis has an average home run distance of 405.4 feet in 2013, more than a foot longer than Cabrera’s average distance of 403.7 feet. Davis’ average distance in August was 416.7 feet, his longest in any month this season.

Davis’ average was aided by a career-long 466-foot blast on Aug. 10, the longest homer between the two players this season. Cabrera’s season-long is 453 feet, done twice, including one in his 3-home run game May 19 against the Texas Rangers.

For more home-run info, including data on every homer hit in 2013, visit

Why Puig is deserving of All-Star bid

July, 10, 2013
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesYasiel Puig is hitting over .400 in his first 34 career games.
The National League’s Final Vote has been widely discussed this week, as Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig is in the mix despite not debuting in the majors until June 3. Puig has some tough competition against Freddie Freeman, Ian Desmond, Hunter Pence and Adrian Gonzalez.


Despite his lack of experience this season, does Puig deserve to win the Final Vote?

Some may disagree with the idea of Puig in the All-Star Game, but the numbers would suggest he deserves it. Although Puig has played in only 34 games - all four other candidates have played in at least 77 games - he leads them all in Wins Above Replacement. Limited experience does not in and of itself mean a player isn't deserving - Puig has contributed as much or more in his admittedly brief tenure than the other candidates have with significantly more playing time.

Puig has 55 hits in his first 34 career games, the third-most in the Live Ball Era (since 1920). Only Joe DiMaggio (59 in 1936) and Roy Weatherly (59 in 1936) had more hits in their first 34 career games.

Puig is the first player to hit .400 or better through his first 130 career at-bats since Tony Oliva (.423 spanning games from 1962-64), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Dodgers have never had a single player with a .400 or higher batting average at the All-Star break (minimum 100 AB). The highest was .377 by Mike Piazza in 1995.


Freeman has three walk-off hits this season, tied with Alex Gordon for the most in either league.


Ten of Desmond’s 15 home runs this season have been to give his team the lead. Desmond’s 10 go-ahead homers are tied with Carlos Gonzalez for third-most in the National League, trailing only Paul Goldschmidt (13) and Pedro Alvarez (11).


This season, Pence leads the majors in stolen bases (13) without being caught and is one of four players with at least 13 home runs, 13 stolen bases and 22 doubles, joining Mike Trout, Carlos Gonzalez and Jason Kipnis.


Gonzalez is “Mr. Consistency.” Including this season, Gonzalez is one of six players with a batting average of at least .295 and OPS of at least .800 in each of the last four seasons, along with Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun and Adrian Beltre.

Welcome to the show: Inside Cole's debut

June, 11, 2013
The Pittsburgh Pirates will unleash one of baseball's most promising prospects as former No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole takes the mound on Tuesday night against the San Francisco Giants.

Here's a look at some of the key stats to know about tonight's matchup.

The History
Cole is the third right-handed pitcher to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Pirates (Kris Benson and Bryan Bullington). No other team has drafted more than one right-hander No. 1 overall.

Bullington rates as one of the least successful No. 1 picks ever. Of the No. 1 overall picks to reach the majors prior to Cole, Bullington has the fewest big-league wins (1).

The Pirates haven’t had a starting pitcher win his major-league debut since Paul Maholm against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005. The last nine Pirates starters to make their debut are a combined 0-4 with five no-decisions. The nine-start streak is the longest for any team.

Maholm is the only one to win since the start of the 2002 season.

Inside the Matchup
Among the challenges that Cole will face.

Giants catcher Buster Posey is hitting .328 with a .920 OPS in his last 32 games, and enters with 10 hits in his last 28 at-bats.

What to watch for: Posey’s recent history against right-handed pitchers is that he thrives when they throw him a fastball inside. His .367 in at-bats that end with fastballs/sinkers/cutters on the inner-half of the plate or just off the outside corner, ranks 15th-best in the majors since the start of 2012.

Second baseman Marco Scutaro is hitting .405 with eight walks and only three strikeouts in his last 26 games. He enters ninth in the majors in hitting with a .332 batting average.

What to watch for: Scutaro entered Monday ranked fourth in the majors in batting average with two strikes, .311.

Right fielder Hunter Pence is hitting .316 with 21 extra-base hits in his last 35 games.

What to watch for: Pence has been aggressive on the basepaths recently, with 12 steals and no caught stealing this season. Keeping runners close has been an issue for Cole in 2013. In Triple-A, he allowed 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts.

Cole’s rival moundsman will be Tim Lincecum, who is coming off one of his best starts of the season—seven innings, one run, three hits, with six strikeouts against the Blue Jays.

What to watch for: Pirates slugger Andrew McCutchen is 1-for-12 against Lincecum, one of six pitchers against whom he has 10 ore more at-bats and a sub-.100 batting average. The others: Roy Oswalt, Matt Cain, Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood, and Roy Halladay

The last 3 No. 1 picks to debut
Here's a look at the last 3 No. 1 picks to make their MLB debut

David Price (September 14, 2008 vs Yankees)
Price made his MLB debut a little more than a year after being selected No. 1, pitching 5 1/3 innings of relief and allowing 2 runs in a loss to the Yankees.

Later that season, Price would be pitching in a pretty important spot-- closing out the Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Stephen Strasburg (June 8, 2010 vs Pirates)
Strasburg had an electrifying debut against the Pirates, striking out 14 in 7 IP, one shy of the record for strikeouts in a debut.

Bryce Harper (April 28, 2012 at Dodgers)
Harper went 1-for-3 with a double and RBI in his debut against the Dodgers. Harper was the 4th teenager since 1969 to get an extra-base hit in his major-league debut-- the other 3: Ken Griffey Jr., Adrian Beltre, and Jose Reyes.

Cain looks to win another clincher

October, 28, 2012

Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMatt Cain gets the start Sunday as the Giants look to sweep the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series
Matt Cain will look to close out the sweep for the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the World Series Sunday.

Although Cain hasn’t been as dominant this postseason as he was in 2010, he still has a chance to make some history. If he picks up the win, he’ll become just the third pitcher in MLB history to get the win in the clinching game of three series in a single postseason according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The others are Andy Pettitte of the New York Yankees in 2009 and Derek Lowe of the Red Sox in 2004 (one of Lowe’s wins came in relief).

Finishing with the Fastball
Cain looked to have his stuff back in his last start against the Cardinals, helped by his ability to get outs when the count went to two strikes. In his first three starts of the postseason, Cain allowed seven hits (including three home runs) in two-strike counts. But in his last start, the Cardinals went 2-for-14 with four strikeouts. The key for Cain will be to use his fastball in two-strike counts, where opponents are hitting .087 (2-for-27) in two-strike at-bats ending with a fastball.

Among Tigers hitters, the only ones with significant history against Cain in the regular season are Prince Fielder and Omar Infante who have each gone 5-for-18 (.278) against the Giants righty.

Max Urgency
Just like Cain, Max Scherzer brings the heat when he gets two strikes on a hitter. This postseason his average fastball velocity is 92.5 MPH when he has fewer than two strikes and 94.1 MPH when he has two strikes.

Max Scherzer
Last postseason Scherzer struggled mightily, allowing 10 runs in 15⅔ innings, but this year he’s been lights out – allowing one earned run in 11 innings while striking out 18.

The problem for Scherzer is that because he relies so heavily on strikeouts, his pitch count gets inflated. He reached the 90-pitch mark in the sixth inning of both his starts this postseason and didn’t finish either inning.

The Giants lineup on Sunday could feature up to six left-handed hitters – with the exceptions being Marco Scutaro, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.

That shouldn’t be a problem for the Tigers’ flamethrower as he’s dominated lefties this postseason, allowing them only two hits in 29 at-bats while striking out 15.

Stats to Watch
• Only two teams have swept their League Championship Series only to be swept upon reaching the World Series: the 2007 Colorado Rockies and the 1990 Oakland Athletics.

• The Giants have four shutouts this postseason which is tied for the most in MLB history. The previous three teams to do it went on to win the World Series (2010 Giants, 1998 Yankees, 1905 Giants)

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Giants have not trailed in their last 54 innings this postseason. That is six innings shy of the single postseason record set by the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

Lincecum has taken Giant step forward

October, 18, 2012

Eric Hartline/US PresswireTim Lincecum's changeup has been one key to his effectiveness this postseason.

Tim Lincecum has allowed one run and three hits in 8⅓ innings in three appearances this postseason, with nine strikeouts and one walk.

Those are vintage Lincecum numbers, the kind we saw when he helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series in 2010.

The Giants will be hoping for that kind of effort from Lincecum in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in their bid to help the Giants even the series with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The postseason has been the time in which Lincecum is at his best. He is 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 45⅓ innings pitched in nine postseason appearances, including five starts.

He is one of four pitchers who have pitched at least 40 postseason innings and averaged at least 10 strikeouts per nine innings. The other three are Brad Lidge, Bob Gibson and Jeff Nelson.

Lincecum's changeup has been his money pitch in these relief efforts. He has thrown it 35 percent of the time this postseason, nearly twice as often as he did in the regular season.

Lincecum has thrown 27 of 36 changeups for strikes, netting 11 outs without allowing a hit. In the regular season, opponents hit .264 in at-bats that ended with a Lincecum changeup.

Lincecum's Matchup to Watch
Whether Carlos Beltran plays is a big deal for the Cardinals regardless, but it's particularly important given that he has a very good history against Lincecum.

Beltran is 7-for-14 with six walks against Lincecum. His .500/.650/.929 slashline is the best (in all three categories) for any hitter who has at least 20 plate appearances against the righty.

Adam Wainwright's Matchups to Watch
Adam Wainwright will try to bounce back from his awful performance in Game 5 of the NL Division Series, when he spotted the Washington Nationals a 6-0 lead by the third inning.

That was a day when Wainwright had arguably the least-effective fastball of his career. He threw 26 fastballs, and the Nationals pummeled them. They had twice as many extra-base hits against Wainwright's heater (four) as outs (two).

What was notable was that he averaged nearly 91 mph with the pitch, his third-best average fastball velocity of the season.

The key stat for Wainwright in Game 4 is that the hitters on the Giants postseason roster have only one home run in 158 career at-bats against him.

That homer was hit by Hunter Pence in 2008. But Pence, who had good numbers against Wainwright early in his career, is 2-for-12 against him over the past two seasons.

Pence has had a rough postseason. He is 5-for-31 with zero extra-base hits, and teams have stuck to a game plan of pitching Pence away. Of the 111 pitches he has seen this postseason, 68 have been on the outside edge (outer-third) or off the outside corner.

He has also struggled against breaking balls. Pence is hitless against the 40 breaking pitches he has seen this postseason, with eight outs.

Freese tags opponents at home
Cardinals third baseman David Freese enters with a 12-game postseason hitting streak in games played at Busch Stadium. He is hitting .475 with 12 RBIs at home for his career in the postseason, including a two-hit effort in Game 3.

Latos and Scutaro help Reds, Giants clinch

September, 23, 2012
The Cincinnati Reds shut out the Los Angeles Dodgers, and with the win, clinched the NL Central division title.

It’s their second division title in the last three seasons and 10th in the Divisional era (since 1969).

Saturday was the Reds 92nd win of the season, their most since 1999 when they went 96-67.

A major reason for Saturday’s victory was Mat Latos who threw eight-plus scoreless innings for the first time this season.

Latos threw 53 of his 67 fastballs (79 percent) for strikes, his highest percentage in his career. He pounded the zone with his fastball by throwing 47 of his 67 fastballs (70 percent) in the strike zone.

Latos’ dominance on Saturday continues a recent trend as he is 3-0 with a 2.52 ERA in his last five games. The Reds have won all five.

Also clinching a postseason berth is the San Francisco Giants who win their second NL West title in three years. Similar to their 2010 World Series champion team, this year’s team has done well in close games – winning a league best 29 one-run games.

The Giants overcame adversity, going 25-10 since Melky Cabrera was suspended on August 15. They entered that day tied with the Dodgers atop the NL West – the gap in the NL West is now 11 games.

Although the Giants trade for Hunter Pence generated more buzz initially, the trade for second baseman Marco Scutaro has had the biggest impact.

After hitting .271 in 95 games with the Colorado Rockies, Scutaro has hit .361 with the Giants. Scutaro went 3-5 Saturday and has had at least two hits in 13 of his last 18 games.

Scutaro has gone 37-86 (.430) against pitches over the horizontal middle third of the plate (the 4-5-6 on your telephone) since being acquired by San Francisco.

Brandon Mendoza, Lee Singer and Kenton Wong contributed to this post

AL West sits at top of divisional rankings

August, 1, 2012
Less than two months ago, each team in the American League East and National League East had a winning record, and the debate was which division was the best in baseball.

However, after the struggles of the Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins and New York Mets, who went a combined 52-92 from June 4-30, a third division has joined the debate – the American League West.

The East and West divisions in the American League are vying for the top spot in ESPN Stats & Info’s Divisional Rankings. After the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners combined to go 57-41 through July, it’s the West that sits at the top of the rankings.

The four teams in the AL West have excelled in games outside of the division. Their combined win percentage of .547 in non-divisional games is the best in baseball.

Highlighted by the A’s going 15-3 against non-divisional opponents, the division went 43-28 in non-divisional games. This surge in non-divisional wins has helped Oakland gain more than six points since June in the category that measures non-divisional win percentage.

Conversely, no team in the American League East had a winning record against non-divisional opponents in July. As a result, the division lost 3.8 points in this category.

The AL West’s July record has lifted three of the four teams into the top eight of’s Power Rankings. No other division has more than two teams in the top 10, and only the New York Yankees rank higher than 14th among the five teams in the AL East.

The acquisition of big-name players before the trade deadline, combined with injuries to players including David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, also moved the West ahead of the East in the category that measures individual players. Zack Greinke (Angels) and Ryan Dempster (Rangers) both rank in the top 25 among pitchers. They have added depth to the AL West, which already had four top-25 pitchers even before those two deals were made.

The National West has also added depth at the trade deadline with the acquisitions of Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez (both traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Hunter Pence (San Francisco Giants). These additions could help the division climb out of last place in the rankings.

(Click here to understand how the divisions are ranked.)
It was a busy day as the trade deadline brought a lot of change for a few teams looking to make a playoff push. Here is a look at the major-league impact of Tuesday’s trades. All stats are entering Tuesday.

The Texas Rangers acquire P Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs for minor-league 3B Christian Villanueva and minor-league P Kyle Hendricks.

Dempster has limited experience against the AL West. He's faced the Oakland Athletics once, Seattle Mariners twice, but never taken the mound against the Los Angeles Angels.

While Dempster might not be the flashy add that Cliff Lee or Zack Greinke might have been, he immediately becomes the team's best starter by Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP.

One concern is that over the last two seasons, Dempster has been good in August (6-3, 3.34 ERA), but not so good in September and October (3-7, 4.79 ERA).

The San Francisco Giants acquire Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies for OF Nate Schierholtz, minor-league C Tommy Joseph and minor-league P Seth Rosin.

The Giants hope to give their outfield a power boost by getting Pence. San Fran outfielders have produced just 26 homers (T-26th in ML) while Pence has 17 himself this season.

He will also be a much-needed power-hitting right-handed bat since Pence is slugging .447 and with an isolated power of .176 while Giants righties are .386 and .119 respectively.

The Los Angeles Dodgers acquire Victorino from the Phillies for P Josh Lindblom, minor-league P Ethan Martin and a player to be named later or cash.

Victorino will play left field, a position the Dodgers have struggled to get production from (.259 BA ranks 11th in the NL). They’ve also matched a National League high by starting eight players in left field this season.

Over the past five seasons, only seven MLB outfielders have been worth more Wins Above Replacement than Victorino.

The Cincinnati Reds acquire P Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals for minor-league P Donnie Joseph and minor-league P J.C. Sulbaran.

The Reds get Broxton, but they already have arguably the best bullpen in the majors. Their team ERA (2.66), wins (20) and K/9 IP (10.2) all rank first among MLB bullpens this season.

Other trades Tuesday:
Pittsburgh Pirates acquire 1B Gaby Sanchez and minor-league P Kyle Kaminska from Miami Marlins for minor-league OF Gorkys Hernandez and 2013 Competitive Balance Lottery pick.
St. Louis Cardinals acquire P Edward Mujica from Marlins for minor-league 3B Zack Cox.
Boston Red Sox acquire P Craig Breslow from Arizona Diamondbacks for P Matt Albers and OF Scott Podsednik.
• Pirates acquire P Chad Qualls from New York Yankees for IF Casey McGehee.
Cleveland Indians acquire minor-league 1B Lars Anderson from Red Sox for minor-league P Steven Wright.

Harry How/Getty Images
Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino fill specific needs for their new teams.
In two separate trades Tuesday, the Philadelphia Phillies traded All-Star centerfielder Shane Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers and All-Star rightfielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants.

How does each player fit with his new team?

He’s in the middle of a down season but Victorino fills a pretty specific need for Los Angeles -- a top-of-the-order hitter. The Dodgers are in the bottom three in the National League in almost every offensive category from the leadoff spot.

It’s not his strongest position in the order but Victorino has made more than 850 plate appearances in the leadoff spot, and this year, despite a down season, is performing much better than the Dodgers’ leadoff hitters.

With Matt Kemp manning center and Andre Ethier in right, Victorino will likely play left. Dodgers leftfielders are at or near the bottom of the National League in most offensive categories.

Victorino has also performed well in his new home park, hitting .357 with an OPS of 1.045. His batting average, on-base and slugging percentages and OPS are his best or second-best in any National League park (outside the NL East).

The Dodgers may have gotten themselves an underrated player. Since 2008 only seven outfielders have a higher Wins Above Replacement than Victorino and he brings value in different ways. Over the same five-year span, only one outfielder has more WAR Runs Baserunning, a stat on Baseball Reference that rates all aspects of baserunning, including stolen bases, taking extra bases and not making outs.

Pence can certainly be a boost in the power department to a punchless outfield. Giants outfielders are in the bottom third of the major leagues in home runs and extra-base hits and are just 15th in slugging percentage. They also could use his right-handed thump -- the Giants rank 14th or worse in the National League in slugging, isolated power and home runs among right-handed batters.

Pence is a downgrade defensively, however, in right field. After leading all major league right fielders with 17 Defensive Runs Saved in 2009, Pence has regressed in that category in each season, down to -6 this season. That’s tied for fifth among major league right fielders.

Giants right fielders -- mostly Gregor Blanco and the departed Nate Schierholtz -- combined for 8 Defensive Run Saved, tied for second among National League teams.

Both players rate poorly in a specific defensive metric -- Plus/Minus on balls hit to the deepest part of the ballpark. Victorino is last among major league outfielders with a -23 on deep balls this season, and he and Michael Saunders are the only are the only players worse than Pence, who’s tied with three others at -17.

US PresswireCarlos Ruiz tags out Norichika Aoki to save a run in the Phillies 7-6 win over the Brewers.
The Philadelphia Phillies had little to celebrate at Citizens Bank Park this season, with a 19-29 home record that ranked last in the NL entering Tuesday. But they found some magic against the Milwaukee Brewers again tonight, scoring six runs in the eighth inning to rally from a season-high five-run deficit in the 7-6 win.

This was the second consecutive game that the Phillies won after trailing by three or more runs in the eighth inning or later. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, they had done that only once before in franchise history, with a pair of walk-off wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Baker Bowl in August 1899.

Carlos Ruiz had a three-run, bases-clearing double to tie the score at 6-6. The last Phillies player with a bases-loaded, game-tying double in the eighth inning or later at home was Ron Gant in 1999 against the Atlanta Braves.

Hunter Pence followed Ruiz with the game-winning single for his team-leading fifth go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later this season. The rest of the Phillies have combined for only four such hits in 2012.

Zack Greinke did his best to keep the Brewers in the game with both his arm and his bat. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball and allowed just three hits, bouncing back after starting the month with a 9.00 ERA in his first four July starts.

Greinke worked the bottom of the strike zone, throwing sixty percent of his pitches in the lower third of the zone or below. The Phillies were hitless in 13 at-bats ending in a pitch to that location, including all five of his strikeouts.

Good news for Brewers fans is that Greinke appears to have put his road woes in the past.

He is 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA in his last eight starts away from Miller Park, a far cry from the 7.03 ERA he posted in his first five road starts this season.

Greinke also chipped in at the plate with his third career home run. It was the first time Cliff Lee allowed a homer to an opposing pitcher in his career.

Speaking of Lee, he was lucky to not get a loss in this game. He allowed 12 hits and four homers, matching his career-highs in both stats. Three of the four longballs came on the first pitch, becoming the first pitcher this season to allow three first-pitch homers in the same game.

National Treasure
The Washington Nationals improved to 8-3 versus the New York Mets this season, as Gio Gonzalez (7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H) earned his 13th win. Gonzalez fell behind 14 hitters 1-0 but battled back to retire 11 of them, allowing only one hit.

The Mets’ post-break slide continues as they have now dropped 11 of their last 12 games. R.A. Dickey (6 IP, 4 ER) lost for the first time in his last 17 starts, also snapping his 11-game win streak. He has a 6.49 ERA in July after posting a 2.15 ERA in the first three months of the season.

Jordany Valdespin tried to rally the Mets with his MLB-leading fifth pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning. The five pinch-hit homers are a Mets single-season record and two shy of the major-league record shared by Dave Hansen (2000 Dodgers) and Craig Wilson (2001 Pirates).

Jesse Johnson/US Presswire Dan Haren has lost four straight starts for the second time in his career.
Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels will be looking to change his fortunes around when he gets the nod tonight against the Seattle Mariners (10:10 ET). He enters having lost four straight starts for the second time in his career, having previously done it in 2005. While Haren does have a 5.79 ERA in that stretch, the Angels have managed a total of two runs in those four games.

The Angels are 1-8 in his nine starts, and only Haren and Chris Volstad of the Chicago Cubs have seen their team lose eight of their starts this season. In addition, only teammate Ervin Santana has received worse support in the AL. The Angels have scored more than three runs just once in Haren's nine starts.

Ike Davis Slumping
The New York Mets are four games over .500 despite Ike Davis having one of the worst seasons in the majors. Davis has the second-lowest batting average among qualifying players, including a .065 average at home, and based on WAR, Davis is the least valuable player in the majors.

When he is making contact this year, Davis has seen a very high percentage of his balls in play turn to outs. Among all players this season, Davis' .188 batting average on balls in play is the lowest.

Last year, Davis found considerable success against the fastball, batting .343 with an OPS of 1.100. This year, those numbers have dropped to .157 and .448.

Other Key Notes
- Ichiro Suzuki was just 2-18 vs Dan Haren last season. He's a .227 career batter vs Haren.
- Hunter Pence is 7-12 (.583) in his career vs Jake Westbrook.
- Philip Humber has a 7.86 ERA since his perfect game.
- Albert Pujols has 3 HR, 8 RBI in his last nine games.
- Cincinnati Reds have a season-high five-game win streak.

Chad Billingsley's slide related to slider?

March, 27, 2012
If the ESPN 500 were based on pedigree and potential, Chad Billingsley (No. 173) wouldn’t have three digits next to his name. A first-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003, Billingsley made his lone All-Star appearance in 2009, and has posted ERAs above four in two of the last three seasons.
Chad Billingsley

He endured his worst statistical season last year. His 2011 ERA, WHIP, walk rate, strikeout rate and strikeout-to-walk ratio were each his worst since becoming a full-time starter in 2008.

What went wrong for Billingsley, causing this once-hyped prospect to be ranked No. 173 among baseball’s 500 best players?

Billingsley struck out nearly one-quarter of the batters he faced in 2008 -- a rate that put him among the 10 best starters -- but that number fell in each of the last three seasons and last year was at just 18 percent, on par with the average major-leaguer.

A diminished slider appears to be one of the key factors related to his declining strikeout rate. His strikeouts with the pitch were cut in half over the last two seasons and the number of swings-and-misses on the pitch also fell by nearly 50 percent.

His inability to find the strike zone with his slider really hurt him last year. In 2010, Billingsley effectively located the pitch near the edge of the strike zone, netting him called strikes on more than one-quarter of his pitches taken by the batter.

He threw his slider for strikes two-thirds of the time two seasons ago, slightly above the major-league average of 63 percent. But last year that rate plummeted to 55 percent, and fewer than one in six sliders taken were called strikes.

Batters adjusted to Billingsley’s lack of command last year and sat on the pitch, waiting for a hanging slider in their wheelhouse to send out of the park. Billingsley yielded three home runs off sliders in 2011 after allowing none in 2010.

A perfect example of this came Aug. 10 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Billingsley threw nine sliders that day, but just two found the strike zone. One of those that did proved to be costly, igniting a Phillies rally from six runs down in a game that ended in a 9-8 defeat for the Dodgers.

In the fourth inning, with the Dodgers leading 6-0 and a man on first, Hunter Pence sent a 2-2 slider thrown over the middle of the plate 434 feet over the center field wall. Just two pitches earlier, Pence had laid off a two-strike slider that wasn’t close to the plate.

In 2012, Billingsley will enter the first year of a 3-year, $35 million contract signed last spring. Despite Billingsley’s mediocre 2011, there is optimism in Dodgers camp that he is poised for a breakout year.

According to a late February report on the Dodgers blog at, Billingsley is working on a change in his mechanics this spring to become more consistent in his delivery.

If this mechanical adjustment is real and yields the results that Billingsley and Dodgers fans hope for, he could find himself much higher on the ESPN 500 list come next year.