|You can't help but root for the husky athlete.|
Pablo Sandoval may not be in the best shape of his life, or then again he might be. But I don't think it will matter much. It feels like Sandoval has been around the big leagues for a while, and more importantly, it feels like he's been a disappointment for almost as long. After bursting to prominence in 2009, Sandoval played a minor role on the Championship team of 2010, due to his copious girth combining with the general difficulties of adjusting to the adjustments of the major leagues, causing a significant regression in his production. Perhaps it's the result of living in the East and digesting the biased media attention that scorns the West Coast, but Sandoval's reammergence as a star in 2011 flew under the radar. The big man can hit. And at 25 years of age, his best years may still lie ahead. 2012 could be a huge one for the Panda.
2011 Stats: 117 games
.315/.357/.552 23 HR 153 OPS+ 5.5 fWAR
Sandoval's accomplishments last season were certainly undermined by the general atrocity that was the Giants' offense. It might not be much better this season, but the addition of Melky Cabrera, who some people peg for a solid season at the plate, should help matters. The rest of the division failed to improve much in terms of player personnel, so the Giants still-stellar pitching should given them a great chance to reclaim the West.
The big question is whether or not Sandoval can stay on the field. The Giants will need more than 117 games out of the big man to control the division. If Sandoval can stay healthy, he will hit. And he will likely hit the ball very hard. If he manages to play 140+ games, a 35 homer season is not a stretch. With their pitching, that may be all the offense the Giants need to win the title. And if the Giants find themselves playing in October, don't be surprised to hear the Kung Fu Panda talked about as an MVP candidate. We do all love colorful nicknames.
.293/.377/.581 and 35 HR