Pablo Sandoval Is Going to Have His Best Season Ever in 2012
Sunday March 4, 2012
Sam Evans: Last year, the Giants won eighty-six games and finished eight games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the N.L. West. They did this despite not having their best catcher for most of the year and losing their best hitter for forty-five games. 2012 however is a new year. If the Giants hope to win their division, Pablo Sandoval needs to stay healthy.
Pablo Sandoval has shown some outstanding potential. Last year, in only 117 games, Sandoval had a .909 OPS and a 12.3 UZR. First of all, his UZR last year was outstanding. UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) is far from a perfect defensive statistic, but it can be useful in finding how well a player covers the area around their position. Sandoval ranked 2nd among 3B’s in UZR.
When I first saw Sandoval play on TV a couple of years ago, I was astonished that he was even in the major leagues. He is 5’11’’ and weighs roughly 245 pounds. In 2008, Sandoval played seventeen games at first base, twelve games at third, and eleven games at catcher. He looks like he doesn’t belong on the baseball field, but he plays like a perennial All-Star. He’s unlike any athlete I’ve ever seen, and it is a joy to watch him play baseball.
Kung Fu Panda had a higher wRC+ than any other third baseman in the game last year. Not to mention, his wRC+ of 142 wasn’t even his highest mark of his young career. Offense has never really been an issue for Sandoval. But if he could hit for more power and still maintain a batting average above .300, he would provide a huge boost to the Giants lineup.
Here are three reasons why Sandoval is going to have his best year in 2012:
- Health: For the first time since 2010, Sandoval is going to be healthy. Last year, Sandoval was on the Disabled List for forty-one games with his wrist surgery. He also had a shoulder strain last year, which hasn’t been bothered him this spring. His shoulder strain last year made it especially hard for him to hit left-handed. Just being able to return to the left-handed side of the batter’s box will give Sandoval another advantage.Sandoval also received LASIK surgery on his left eye. It’s impossible to know how much of an effect the LASIK surgery will have on Sandoval. In a recent interview with CSN, Sandoval said that with the LASIK surgery, he has been seeing the ball better and he’s been able to pick up the rotation of the ball easier. Also, with LASIK surgery, Sandoval will probably be able to see the ball more sharply during night games at AT&T Park. This year is a fresh start for Sandoval. Reports say that he came to spring training in fairly decent shape, and he is ready to hit from the left side of the plate again. If he can play 150 games, he should be able to put himself in position for success.
- Lineup: Last year, the Giants offense scored 570 runs. That was the second worst in baseball (I would know, I’m a Mariners fan). It’s unacceptable to score 570 runs in a season, and despite GM Brian Sabean acquiring Carlos Beltran at the All-Star break, the offense never got going in 2011. For 2012,Buster Posey is going to be a huge boost to the Giants offense. Sabean also traded for Melky Cabrera, who was worth 4.2 WAR last year. Also, if Aubrey Huff doesn’t start producing at first base, it looks like the Giants are finally ready to give Brandon Belt the chance he deserves. Other than the aspect of new, improved players surrounding Sandoval factoring into his possible breakout season in 2012, there is a chance he will have a new spot in the lineup. Rumors have been circling this spring that Giants Manager Bruce Bochy plans to hit Sandoval third this summer. That means that the Giants are relying on Sandoval to be their best all-around hitter. Sandoval will benefit from hitting third, because he’ll be surrounded by the other top Giants hitters.
- Improved Contact Rate: Sandoval is developing a reputation for making contact with everything thrown at him. Even pitches that would normally be balls, Sandoval has been able to find a way to put them into play. One statistic from Sandoval that surprised me from 2011 was his 84.4% Z-Contact%. Z-Contact% is a statistic used to show the percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging. Sandoval’s Z-Contact% in 2009 was 87.1%, so I would expect his 2012 percentage to increase. If Sandoval can continue to make contact when thrown strikes, his home runs and batting average will naturally increase.
The Giants recently resigned “Fat Ichiro” to a three-year, $17.15 million contract. Sandoval is going to be in San Francisco until at least 2014. In the meantime, Sandoval is going to be pivotal to the Giants success this year, and I think he will step up to the challenge. Kung Fu Panda can win the N.L. MVP award in 2012. All he needs to do is keep his weight down and avoid injuries. The result will be that he he will become one of the premier players in the National League.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***
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Posted on March 4, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged aubrey huff, baseball, brandon belt, buster posey, carlos beltran, giants, kung fu panda, melky cabrera, mlb, nl west, pablo sandoval, san francisco giants, third base. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.