With a strong start to Spring Training, Pablo Sandoval is proving that he can be a valuable piece to the San Francisco Giants success in 2018.
When news broke that Sandoval was coming back to the Giants last year I wanted to vomit.
While I loved the Panda when he was here before, he’s been a mess since leaving for the Boston Red Sox. Last year was a complete joke, and adding Sandoval just added to that fire.
In 47 games with the Giants last year he hit .225, which was actually better than the .212 he hit in 32 games with the Red Sox in 2017.
He hasn’t hit better than .245 since 2014, and he hasn’t hit over 20 home runs since 2011.
At the same time, he’s never had much range at third base. While he’s not bad at balls hit in his area, he’s certainly not going cover a ton of ground.
There just hasn’t been much reason to believe in Sandoval in quite some time.
However, that narrative is changing this spring.
Through 11 games played and 28 at-bats, he’s hitting .321 with a home run and 8 RBI. He’s struck out seven times and walked twice for an on-base-percentage of .344.
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I certainly don’t expect Sandoval to hit that well throughout the season, but those are encouraging stats for the 31 year old.
But what has made Sandoval so much valuable this year is his transition to first base. Being able to back-up both corner infield spots gives him a chance to make the 25-man roster.
His main competition right now is Chase d’Arnaud — who is also having a good spring. But I like the potential power that Sandoval brings off the bench as a switch-hitter.
It’s really going to come down to how many bench players the Giants want to keep. If they think Kelby Tomlinson can back-up third, then they may prefer to keep an extra outfielder who can also back-up first base. Or they might just decide to go younger.
But Sandoval has certainly done everything he can so far this spring to show that he can contribute to this team in 2018.