Pablo Sandoval
(Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

The Panda’s Return To The Wild: Pablo Sandoval Is Coming Back

Pablo Sandoval was once a mainstay in San Francisco. The chunky, loveable switch hitter called third base his home and was an absolute stud. He could crank home runs, play Gold Glove-caliber defense, and quickly became a Giant fan favorite in the early 2010s. Fans went as far as donning panda beanies due to Sandoval’s resemblance of a Panda Bear and also took the nickname given to him by teammate Barry Zito. Too bad it was short-lived.

Statistics With SF

As a Giant, Sandoval put up some astounding numbers. In his first full season in 2009, he batting .330 with 25 home runs, 90 runs batted in, and a .943 OPS. He finished seventh in MVP voting. Two seasons later, he made his first all-star game, hit .315 with 23 home runs and a .909 OPS. Unfortunately, he fell off a bit in the next three seasons. He was solid, but nowhere near what he did in 2009 or 2011. He averaged .280 with 14 home runs and a .759 OPS.

Postseason Success

On the flip side, he made up for it in the postseason, especially in 2012. In Game One of the World Series that year, he hit three home runs, including two off of Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander. He was a key part of the Giants’ three rings in 2010, ’12, and ’14. His combined career World Series batting average is .426 and a 1.162 in 12 games. Holy moly.

The Downfall

In 2015, Pablo Sandoval became a free agent and signed with the Boston Red Sox. The deal spanned five years and was worth 90 million dollars. By this time, Sandoval was incredibly overweight and struggled at the plate. He batted .245 with only 10 home runs which were all career lows at the time. In 2016, injuries plagued Sandoval, and remained on the disabled list for practically the entire season. The next year started well for the Panda but soon fared worse, with the Red Sox designating the panda for assignment.

The Giants once again picked up his contract and signed him to a Minor League deal in 2017. Between 2017-2020, Sandoval was the Giant’s backup third baseman to Evan Longoria. 2020 proved to be another low point for him, only batting .220 with a .546 OPS. The Braves, however, saw something in him and picked up Sandoval on a Minor League deal. Once again, he didn’t prove to do much but had the pleasure to embark on a deep post-season run with Atlanta.

Keepin’ The Faith

The Panda has something to prove. In 2021, he is currently batting .432 in 17 Spring Training games. The Braves have optimism with Sandoval and selected him to be apart of the Opening Day roster. He even beat out Jake Lamb and Jason Kipnis which is more than promising. Keep in mind, Pablo is only 34 years old. If things work out with Atlanta, the Panda could provide some sock in their already deep lineup. He just has to keep those dark days of Boston behind him.

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