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San Francisco Giants: Who Should Win the Willie Mac Award?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 24: Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two run walk off double against the San Diego Padres during the eleventh inning at AT&T Park on June 24, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 3-2 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 24: Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two run walk off double against the San Diego Padres during the eleventh inning at AT&T Park on June 24, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 3-2 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 01: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates as he trots around the bases after hitting a walk-off solo home run to defeat the San Diego Padres 5-4 at AT&T Park on October 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 01: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates as he trots around the bases after hitting a walk-off solo home run to defeat the San Diego Padres 5-4 at AT&T Park on October 1, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Pablo Sandoval

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.

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