On the same day he became the first San Francisco Giant to start all 162 games in a season, Hunter Pence signed a deal to ensure he will play many more games for the franchise.
Pence and the Giants finalized a five-year, $90 million contract Sunday, making the announcement at a pregame press conference. The 30-year-old right fielder was a pending free agent this winter, but he decided to stay put rather than testing the market.
"I realized how intelligent this organization is," Pence said. "They want to win. I'm extremely happy."
Assistant general manager Bobby Evans cited Pence's off-field value as a key reason the Giants made the big investment. On Friday, Pence was selected the winner of the Willie Mac Award, which goes to the Giant who best embodies the leadership and character of Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.
"Signing Hunter back is as much about the future as it is the message that this sends the clubhouse as the players depart today," Evans said. "They're going to get a very strong message about the commitment of this organization, but they're also getting a very strong message from one of their key leaders, Hunter Pence."
Manager Bruce Bochy is thrilled to have a lineup mainstay returning.
"I think the best compliment I could give you, Hunter, if I had a kid and he came out to watch a ballgame, I'd say watch Hunter Pence. Watch how he plays the game, the passion that he plays with," Bochy said before taking a humorous dig. "To be honest, I might not have him watch you throw or your on-deck swings."
Following the press conference, Pence led the Giants to a come-from-behind, 7-6 win over the San Diego Padres in the season finale. Pence knocked in the winning run with a ninth-inning single, and he hit a two-run single in the seventh.
Pence finishes the season with a .283 average, a .339 on-base percentage, a .483 slugging percentage, 27 homers, 99 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
He became the first Giants player to homer in four consecutive games since Barry Bonds in 2005. Pence was the seventh San Francisco player to post at least 20 homers and 20 steals in the same season, joining Barry Bonds, Glenallen Hill, Jeffrey Leonard, Bobby Bonds, Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays.
The last Giant to start every game in a season was Alvin Dark in 1954, when the season consisted of just 154 games.