In what will be exciting news for many SF Giants fans, fan-favorite Pablo Sandoval has made Atlanta’s Opening Day roster. Of course, Sandoval has spent the majority of his 13-year career in San Francisco with the Giants. After leaving to sign a five-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, the Kung Fu Panda returned to the City by the Bay and found a late-career renaissance as a valuable bench bat. However, the team designated him for assignment during last season.
There’s no denying Sandoval’s struggles in 2020. In a diminished role, he hit .220/.278/.268 with just 1 home run. However, some advanced numbers, like expected batting average (.255) and expected slugging percentage (.378), were higher on Sandoval’s performance than his traditional numbers indicating. With a clear hole at third base, Atlanta added Sandoval late in the season, and he soon found himself on one of the best teams in the National League.
Sandoval only appeared in one regular-season game and went 0-2 with a pair of walks. He did, however, remain on Atlanta’s postseason roster and went 0-3 with a walk in the National League Championship Series. With similar questions about their depth on the infield corner, Atlanta re-signed Sandoval to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. Sandoval took advantage of the opportunity, hitting .432/.465/.514 with just six strikeouts in 43 plate appearances this spring.
Over Sandoval’s 13-year career, he’s bashed 149 home runs and a .279/.331/.445 triple-slash line. Aside from two and a half forgettable years with the Boston Red Sox, Sandoval spent all but one regular-season game of his career in the Giants organization up this point. Signed out of Venezuela, Sandoval was the first of a flood of homegrown talent that reached the big-leagues from 2005-2012 and ultimately formed the foundation of the Giants’ three World Series victories between 2010-2014.
Barring injury, Sandoval will not be playing an everyday role in Atlanta this season. Still, the 34-year-old should see plenty of playing time subbing in for Austin Riley and pinch-hitting in late-game situations. The SF Giants will host Atlanta for a three-game series from September 17-19, giving fans a chance to see Sandoval return to Oracle Park.