The Kung Fu Panda was an early favorite for the award as the season began. Pablo had returned to San Francisco last season after a brutal breakup and fans were reluctant to cheer for the former fan favorite.
As the 2018 season began, Sandoval quickly reminded all Giants fans what made him so fun to watch in the first place. Sandoval not only started hitting again, but he was playing well in the field as well.
And he was playing everywhere. He played third base and first base, which were positions Giants fans were used to from the Panda. He was used as a designated hitter in American League parks, which was not uncommon in past seasons as well.
But, with injuries all over the roster, manager Bruce Bochy had to start getting creative. Sandoval played second base for the first time as a Giant, starting there twice.
However, it was his time on the mound that became one of the most memorable moments of 2018. It was the end of April and the Giants were losing big to the rival Los Angeles Dodgers at home. Then, in the ninth inning, Sandoval came in and pitched a scoreless ninth.
His 0.00 earned run average led the team this season and “Let Pablo Pitch” T-Shirts became a popular item in San Francisco.
Then, in August, Sandoval injured his hamstring and was lost for the season. His versatility and productivity were as consistent as anything else in 2018, and he should be a favorite to win the Willie Mac Award.