As many of you know, Pablo Sandoval (Panda) had a disappointing 2016 season with the Red Sox. If you would even call it a season, lol. Panda showed up at 2016 overweight and looked more like a Man VS Food contestant than he did a baseball player. He had 7 plate appearances and then somehow ended up missing the remainder of the season due to a torn labrum which required surgery. How he did that? We will never know. Only thing we know that he injured was that poor belt that snapped after he took a hack early on in the 2016 season against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Panda signed a 5yr/95milion dollar contract going into the 2015 season. He is owed a base salary of 17 million for the 2017 season. When he showed up to spring training this year in better shape, it is clear he’s serious about baseball and deserves another chance to be the starting third baseman for the Red Sox again.
Sandoval along with Andrew Benntendi are tied for the most plate appearances for the Red Sox this spring training with 54. Panda is proving himself with a .370 AVG along with showing some power with 4 home runs which happens to lead the team. On top of that he leads the team in RBIS with 19.
Panda is clearly proving himself by putting up these stats and deserves to be the starting third basemen on opening day. He’s also been working on going back to switch hitting which I’m not sure how I feel about. I personally think he should stick to lefty for the season and maybe try to pick it up after the season, but that’s just me.
Overall, I think Panda will have a productive season and my projections for him will look something like this:
68 R, 18 HR, 82 RBIs and a .275 BA.
I believe if he can live up to those expectations his job will not be in jeopardy and those numbers would put him mid pack for third basemen in the MLB. Will Sandoval ever live up to his contract expectations? No. But the Red Sox are being smart by giving him another chance.