Last season, Hunter Pence looked like the definition of done. He slashed .226/.258/.332 in 97 games with the San Francisco Giants and posted a career-worst .590 OPS. On April 13 this season, he turned 36—not generally an age at which players crank back the clock.
Yet, crank it back he has.
After he signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers during the offseason and made the team out of spring training, Pence is enjoying a career renaissance.
Through 26 games, the outfielder is hitting .316 with seven home runs, 25 RBI and a 1.047 OPS. He's also brought his irrepressible energy and quirky charm to a Texas team caught between a retool and a rebuild.
It's an improbable turnaround. Or not, if you ask his old skipper.
"That man, he's willed his way through a lot of things," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I'm not surprised by anything he does."
During his years with the Giants, Pence was known for rolling around on a scooter, delivering champagne-drenched clubhouse soliloquies (note: contains NSFW language) and providing at least one literally unbelievable postseason hit.
But beyond the outsized personality and herky-jerky playing style, Pence was dang good. Between 2007—when he debuted with the Houston Astros—and 2014, he made three All-Star teams, won two rings and signed a five-year, $90 million contract with San Francisco in September 2013.
By 2015, injuries and underperformance crept in. As the Giants' even-year dynasty faded in the rearview, Pence's performance faded, too.
He left San Francisco as a beloved figure and penned a touching farewell in The Players' Tribune. It felt like a goodbye—the end of another solid MLB career. Father Time is undefeated, as they say.
In typical Pence fashion, things didn't go according to the script.