The San Francisco Giants are currently having one of the worst seasons in team history. That is saying something for a franchise that is over 125 years old.
Pablo Sandoval, a San Francisco Giants legend, who was recently released by the Boston Red Sox, isn’t having a great season either.
A reunion seemed almost certain as both team and player have struggled since they infamously split.
With reports surfacing that Sandoval will sign a minor league deal with the Giants and report to Triple-A Sacramento, it is a great opportunity to showcase just how good “The Panda” really was.
Sandoval signed with the Giants as a 16 year old and made his Major League debut at 22 in 2008. His first full season may have been his best in the big leagues.
In 153 games, he hit 25 home runs and drove in 90. He slashed .330/.387/.556 for an OPS of .943. He looked like he would be a huge part of the team’s future.
In 2010, Sandoval struggled. His OPS dropped to .732 and he lost his starting job to Juan Uribe.
He did have his moments. As a pinch hitter, Pablo ripped a double in the National League Championship Series to give the Giants the lead. It was a preview of what was to come in future post-seasons.
2011 was his best all around season, as he finished with a Wins Above Replacement of 6.1. He also slashed .315/.357/.552 for an OPS of .909. 2011 was his first of two All-Star games and gave him a permanent home at third base for the Giants.
Then came 2012. His numbers dropped, as he finished the regular season with an OPS of .789. However, he came to life in the post-season. After an OPS of .890 in the Division Series and a .941 in the NLCS, Pablo entered immortality.
His three home runs in Game 1 of the World Series, the first two of which were off Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander, forever cemented his place in baseball history. He joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to ever hit three home runs in a single World Series game.
The next two regular seasons saw Pablo’s numbers stay around where he was in 2012. He finished 2013 with an OPS of .758 and 2014 with an OPS on .739.
However, with 2014, came another post-season, and Sandoval once again shone brightest in October. Overall, he finished the 2014 post-season with 26 hits, a Major League record.
He also caught the final out. Every little kid dreams of hitting a home run in the World Series or recording the final out to win it all and Pablo Sandoval has done both.
Fans will always have strong opinions about the Kung Fu Panda, but there is no denying that he had an enormous impact on the success of the Giants and the rings they earned.
So, no matter what your opinion, there are two truths. One is, Pablo Sandoval was a special Giant while he was here, and two is, he has returned to the team he joined as a teenager.
In three separate trips to the World Series over 12 games and 47 at bats, Pablo Sandoval slashed .426/.460/.702 for an OPS of 1.162.