Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval went from unheralded international free-agent signing to fan favorite and All-Star during his first go-around with the San Francisco Giants.
While he was never ranked higher than the No. 15 prospect in the farm system heading into the 2006 season, according to Baseball America, Sandoval nonetheless made an impact immediately upon arrival in the majors.
He hit .350/.394/.578 with 38 doubles and 20 home runs between High-A and Double-A in 2006 before making his MLB debut on Aug. 14, then batted .345 with a 118 OPS+ and 14 extra-base hits in 41 games.
He took over as the team’s everyday third baseman and finished seventh in NL MVP voting, setting up an impressive run with the team during the 2010s.
His production dipped during the 2010 season and he found himself in a part-time role once the postseason rolled around, but he was a key contributor for the team’s 2012 and 2014 World Series titles.
He hit .364/.386/.712 with six home runs and 13 RBI in 16 games during the 2012 postseason, including a three-homer performance in Game 1 of the World Series.
In 2014, he batted .366/.423/.465 with seven doubles and five RBI in 17 games.
He departed for Boston following the 2014 season, signing a five-year, $95 million deal that wound up being one of the worst free-agent signings in recent memory.
When he was released during the 2017 season, he made his way back to the San Francisco Giants and enjoyed a career renaissance of sorts while reclaiming his role as a fan favorite.
This season, he batted .268/.313/.507 for a 114 OPS+ while tallying 23 doubles and 14 home runs in 296 plate appearances, thriving in a part-time role. He leads the majors this year with 18 pinch hits.
As he gets set for free agency, his time with the San Francisco Giants may finally be coming to an end. However, his consistent production and stellar postseason performance will earn him a lasting place in franchise lore.
Check back here regularly as we count down the 50 best San Francisco Giants of the 2010s.