Pablo Sandoval is now in his 3rd season of his 5 year- $95 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. Is this the year he finally returns to his 2014 postseason form where he was 26-71 for a .366 avg., or will he continue the disappointment, and make Boston really wonder who they signed for almost $100 million dollars. Let’s be optimistic, we will say the first season playing in Boston was nerves; getting used to the atmosphere, the high expectation fan base, and the harsh reality sometimes that you are playing for an iconic franchise in an iconic ballpark. The second season he was injured, which brings us to his 3rd season of his 5 year contract. What now? Sandoval is no stranger to success at the biggest stages; 3x World Series champion, 2012 World Series MVP, and the ability to come through in the clutch in October with a career postseason batting average of .344. Maybe he is still suffering from jet lag for the past two seasons after moving across the country to Boston from San Francisco. Whatever the reason, the tides have seemingly turned for the once successful third baseman, at least so far they have.
Pablo has always had weight issues in the past, but with the San Francisco Giants they were never as magnified as they have been in Boston. It is easy to pick out flaws and problems when things aren’t going right, and Pablo’s weight coming into the 2016 season was certainly one to remember…
After already having a below average start to his new 5-year deal in 2015 (.245, 10 HR, 47 RBI), 2016 wasn’t “shaping” up to be much better from the small sample size. Maybe the Red Sox should have placed a weight clause into his contract, such as the one the Seattle Seahawks placed on Eddie Lacy this off-season. Countless times, Red Sox brass was asked if there was a number Sandoval was given as far as target for weight, and every time the answer was “no”. Following spring training, Pablo Sandoval only played in 3 games and was soon shut down for the season due to injury. But before he was shut down for the season Sandoval gave us one of the most memorable videos of 2016, when his belt snapped in the middle of a swing. His stat line for 2016: 7 PA, 0 hits, 1 BB and 1 broken belt.
Luckily, there was a glimmer of hope in the wake of Sandoval faltering, in Travis Shaw. Coming into the 2016 season, Shaw was able to beat out Sandoval for the starting third baseman position for the Red Sox. Although the Red Sox are paying Sandoval a ton of money, he was still slowly fading away in the picture with Shaw’s success. Shaw started out the season scorching hot and all was well at the hot corner in Boston. Eventually Shaw would return to reality and finish the season with a .242 avg, while hitting 16 HR’s and 71 RBI’s. At multiple times throughout the season, the only time Sandoval’s name was brought up was in less than ideal trade discussions, but Shaw’s somewhat flat line during the last bit of the season left the door cracked open for Pablo to reclaim his position.
In December, the Red Sox addressed a need for their bullpen and acquired Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers, in exchange for Shaw. The bigger question that was addressed in this trade was the question at third base; trading Shaw showed the Red Sox were committing to Sandoval at third, for better or for worse. Now with Sandoval coming into the 2017 fresh and reclaiming his starting position, he certainly has something to prove. In the off-season, Pablo sought advice from longtime friend Miguel Cabrera, and obtained a boxing instructor to help with his fitness. He also posted countless videos of workouts on Instagram to show his progress, and all is seemingly right in the world of Sandoval. In Spring training, Pablo has posted a .351 average, with 4 HR’s and 19 RBI’s, and continues to trend back to his “normal” self. The question remains, will the below picture of Pablo Sandoval be the resurrection of the once World Series hero for the San Francisco Giants, or will he continue to be another Carl Crawford, and steadily decline after getting a huge payday. I can only hope Red Sox nation will be filled with panda bear heads at the end of the 2017 season, and beyond.
Sandoval currently is hitting .196 to start off the 2017 season, however he does have 3 HR’s (2 of which were in clutch situations might I add) and 10 RBIs.