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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fanhouse: Fletcher: Can Pablo Sandoval Do It Again?

For Love or Country: The Pablo Sandoval Story (concentrating on the Swing Era, of course)

Sandoval is the roly-poly 22-year-old ambidextrous catcher/first baseman/third baseman who managed to hit a cool .345 in the season’s final six weeks after he was called up last year.

And he managed to do it while swinging at everything. He swung at 64.6 percent of the pitches he saw, the highest rate of anyone in the majors with at least 100 plate appearances. He swung at 53.8 percent of pitches that were outside the strike zone, also tops in the majors.

...To find out what’s real, FanHouse asked a scout who watched Sandoval last year and this spring.

“I think that he’ll be good enough to make contact,” the scout said. “I don’t think he’ll be as fortunate to get as many hits as he got last year on a lot of pitches he did. In an age of video and so many things to break down guys’ strengths and weaknesses, it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the league now approaches him. Do I think he’ll become a good hitter in the future? Yes. But there will be an adjustment period this year.

“By people knowing he’s very aggressive and he’ll swing at almost anything, they are going to pitch him even more off the plate. Some balls you are going to put in play, but you are going to put in play right at somebody.”

Repoz Posted: March 24, 2009 at 06:20 PM | 7 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, sabermetrics

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   1. Milford Blatti Posted: March 24, 2009 at 08:46 PM (#3113292)
Want to hear something interesting about Sandoval's 2008?

Among hitters with a minimum of 150 PA, he saw the second highest percentage of curveballs (12.9%) and the 24th lowest percentage of fastballs (53.2%).

In other words, they were already pitching him like he was Ryan Howard (10th lowest % of fastballs and 16th highest % of CB). Folks seem to think the league is suddenly going to get wise to the guy; but the league already has. Check out the numbers for guys like Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo: those guys see 70% fastballs.

I'm not saying the guy will continue to hit .345; but he's not going to turn into Pedro Feliz either. He's already being pitched like he's Pedro Feliz and hitting better. He's some kind of freak of nature.
   2. Bhaakon Posted: March 24, 2009 at 09:34 PM (#3113406)
I'm not saying the guy will continue to hit .345; but he's not going to turn into Pedro Feliz either. He's already being pitched like he's Pedro Feliz and hitting better. He's some kind of freak of nature.


The danger is more that he'll turn into Freddy Sanchez, so that he basically has to hit .340 to be as good as the Giants expect/need him to be. Also, there isn't any chance of Sandoval making up for a mediocre bat with great defense, as Feliz has done. Whatever value Sandoval has as a player is all going to come at the plate (or possibly behind it, if he's moved back to catcher).
   3. Walt Davis Posted: March 24, 2009 at 10:54 PM (#3113510)
I predict something in the range of Jeff Francoeur to Vlad Guerrero. :-)
   4. Milford Blatti Posted: March 24, 2009 at 11:09 PM (#3113534)
The danger is more that he'll turn into Freddy Sanchez, so that he basically has to hit .340 to be as good as the Giants expect/need him to be.


Excellent point. The defense is probably even more troubling, since, if he can't field a key defensive position and swings at everything, he's largely worthless.

He's 5'10" and weighs 240 and he's 22--not exactly a formula for longevity. If he's not going to walk (not a skill he's likely pick up w/ Carney Lansford as a hitting coach), and he's not going to catch, he better start turning those line drives into home runs, or he'll be out of a job.

It's possible he'll keep hitting well over .300 if he doesn't develop power, since he'll likely see a higher percentage of fastballs (60-70% a la avg. player-Juan Pierre, etc.) and possible that he'll develop power, making him Vlad Guerrero. But it's also possible that he'll see a 5% increase in batted balls finding gloves, making him a pretty useless player.
   5. Bhaakon Posted: March 24, 2009 at 11:35 PM (#3113562)
As a Giants fan, my greatest fear wrt to Sandoval is that he settles in as a .290-.300 hitter with no discipline, middling power, and not enough defense to play at 3rd. A .295/.330/.420 10-15 HR platoon hitter just doesn't play at 1B (and neither do many 5'10" players for that matter), but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Giants' brass would say "ZOMG, batting average and low K's" and play him there full time for the next decade or so.
   6. Steve Treder Posted: March 24, 2009 at 11:44 PM (#3113569)
If he's not going to walk (not a skill he's likely pick up w/ Carney Lansford as a hitting coach), and he's not going to catch, he better start turning those line drives into home runs, or he'll be out of a job.

This is the Giants. He'll have a job, even if it's at first base.

His upside is genuine: he's young enough, and by golly big enough, to have those line drives become home runs. But his complete lack of plate discipline does mean that he'll have to hit .300 with meaningful power to be an asset if he isn't catching, and especially if he's playing 1B.

And, carrying that much weight on that frame at this age is worrisome, for sure.
   7. Drexl Spivey Posted: March 25, 2009 at 05:28 AM (#3113879)
Pablo Sandoval:Giants=Randall Simon:Pirates.

Fat, switch-hitter, swings at everything, no defensive value, on a horrible offensive team that hopes for a high BA.

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