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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pablo, You Could've Been One of the Best

A little over a year ago ("Aging Curves and Big Contracts") I questioned the wisdom of the Red Sox offering Pablo Sandoval (and Henley Ramirez) such large contracts. I noted that Hall of Famers tend to peak between the ages of 28-30 and average players between 25-27, which suggested to me that Sandoval, who was 28 at the time, may have already passed his prime. I did concede that because Fenway is a great hitter's park, he might put up better offensive numbers than he did in his last couple of years in San Francisco, but nevertheless his career was on the downward slope.

However, I don't anybody anticipated how fast Pablo would fall. No longer pressured to keep his weight under control, evidently one of the reasons why he left the San Francisco Giants, Pablo's skills suffered to the point that his offensive and defensive WAR (win above replacement) scores were among the worst of starting third basemen in 2015. And on more than one occasion he had to be removed from the lineup after he became light headed because of a "long run" (e.g., first to home). And now there's a possibility that he might be pushed out of the starting lineup by a rookie ("Shaw's hot bat may force Sandoval out of Red Sox lineup").

This is all so sad because Pablo could've been one of the best players of all time. I think it was former San Francisco Giant, Will Clark, who once remarked that most people didn't realize how quick Pablo's bat was (i.e., how quickly he can react to a pitched ball). One only has to watch the home runs he hit off Justin Verlander in the 2012 World Series to see just how true this is (one of them produced a "Wow" from Verlander). And in his last year in San Francisco he demonstrated that he could be among the best defensive third basemen in the league as well ("Pablo Sandoval's defense no longer strikes fear into Giants' pitchers").

Unfortunately, Pablo evidently doesn't think keeping his weight down impacts his play. He may be the only person who believes this (and maybe his brother). Because he has so much raw talent, I wouldn't be surprised if he put up decent numbers this year, but unless he turns things around, I don't think his long term prospects are too good.

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