Newly-acquired Pablo Sandoval promises to be never boring or irrelevant to the Boston Red Sox and their fans. In fact, the 28-year-old Venezuelan superstar finds new ways to keep people watching the show.
In a recent report by CBC Sports’ own Doug Harrison, Sandoval was recorded on Instagram performing in a different sport: basketball. Apparently, the nickname ‘Kung Fu Panda’ serves him well, as he demonstrated another one of his mysterious arts. “No, there’s no threat of the five-foot-11, 248-pound Venezuelan becoming a two-sport star, but Sandoval has shown a knack for draining a half-court shot … with his butt planted on the hardwood” (Harrison, CBCSports). Check it out:
It will be interesting to see what else Sandoval is capable of doing on and off the field for the Red Sox, this season.
But first, let’s check out what he did last season.
Yawn, just another World Series championship ring to add to his collection. Sandoval ran his 5’11”, 245 pound-frame for 12 hits, 3 for doubles, and 4 RBIs against the Kansas City Royals. It was his third championship in five years with the San Francisco Giants. Sandoval’s catch even sealed the win in game seven.
The man hit .279, with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs, while striking out only 85 times in 588 at-bats in the regular season. To put that body of work into perspective, big-time hitters like Mike Trout almost reached the 200 strikeout plateau in the same amount of at-bats. Sandoval knows how to win, because he knows how to get on base, with a .739 OPS; he can hit hard and think hard about the pitches he gets.
Expect more of the same, in terms of his bat, if not more so. Being a switch-hitter and with his power, Sandoval will likely bust balls all over Fenway Park, a place known for offence. The cathedral of Boston was ranked fourth, last season, in allowing the most hits and was ranked fifth in runs scored, in all of Major League Baseball. AT&T Park, where Sandoval and the Giants played, ranked 25th and 26th, respectively, in the same categories. If Sandoval was feasting before, it should be a full-course banquet of hits in Beantown.
Sandoval should also sure up the third base position, defensively, as well. After Xander Bogaerts and a host of other candidates looked amateurish at best in the hot corner, Sandoval’s improved hands and fitness in San Francisco will relieve Red Sox Nation’s frustration. He only made 11 errors to be ranked ninth in fewest mistakes made at the position, ahead of star players like Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria and St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter. Sandoval may also play some first base, if Mike Napoli and David Ortiz cannot assume the role, as Pablo has history there.
The Boston Red Sox should have his services for as long as his career lasts, paying him $90 million until the end of 2020. His $17 million team option and $5 million buyout clauses in place, unless his numbers dip significantly, make Sandoval ready to wear the red and white uniform for a long time. This off-season signing shows no signs of being a problem, through injury or lack of production. If his basketball skills are any indication, Sandoval should be ready for action, even before spring training begins.
* All player statistics from: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/sandopa01.shtml
** Park statistics found at: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor