The Boston Red Sox gave new third baseman Pablo Sandoval a hefty payday this offseason – five years and $95 million through the 2019 season. With a picture of Sandoval having made its rounds on the Internet, showing off Panda’s larger than usual belly, critics are calling him out for his lack of physical physique.
The thing is, he has always had a weight situation. Sandoval has been more likened to Mo Vaughn or David Ortiz rather than his new teammate Hanley Ramirez. If the Red Sox weren’t okay with this, they wouldn’t have dealt out a payday that would go pound for pound in dollars with Sandoval’s weight.
Pablo Sandoval hasn’t had a 20-home run season since 2011, when he hit 23. His career high is 25, which came in his full season in the Major Leagues in 2009. That same year was his highest RBI and doubles total of 90 and 44 respectively. The man is only a two-time All-Star and is not known for his big play potential with the bat – at least not in the regular season.
Sandoval is a career .294 hitter. The last three seasons his highest though was .283. In the playoffs, Panda turns it up; he is hitting .344 in 10 career series in the post season. He batted .500 in the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers, and he batted .429 in last year’s Fall Classic facing the Kansas City Royals. His big game potential seems to be a bigger reason why Boston was so inclined to get him on the team rather than his lack of a Paleo diet.
Some sports analysts will argue against there being a “clutch” factor, but Sandoval has proven otherwise in the playoffs. He moves from a team in which he was a three-time World Series champion, to one in which he could become a three-time champion once again. Boston is no stranger to post season success, and Sandoval seems to fit right into their big game mentality.
I have nothing against Pablo Sandoval and his weight. He is a Major League Baseball player and a seven-year veteran. He knows the routine of the off-season as it makes its way towards Spring Training and Opening Day. Panda might be in a new city for home games in 2015, but he has found success no matter what his pant size. It’s been two years since his last stolen base, but don’t let that keep you from expecting Sandoval to hit .285 this season with 23 home runs.