With baseball resuming today and the San Francisco Giants’ season a little more than half way done, I thought it would be an opportune moment to review Pablo Sandoval‘s performance thus far. After breaking a hamate bone in each hand both this season and last while missing about the same time, one might think his numbers would be pretty similar. In fact, it is uncanny how nearly identical his numbers are.
Except for two more doubles giving him a slightly higher SLG in 2011 and an increase to his walks in 2012 giving him a higher OBP, the numbers are pretty close. This season has to be given the edge as the better of the two due to Pablo scoring more runs, having one more RBI and and less strikeouts.
The increase in the Panda’s walk to strikeout ratio are a testament to his improved patience at the plate. With a career high 3.67 pitches per plate appearance this year (7.3% improvement over his career numbers prior to this season), which is much higher than his previous single season best coming last year at 3.50 Pit/PA, you can see that Pablo is seeing more pitches. Pablo is refusing to swing at pitches he cannot make contact with and in turn is taking balls instead of getting swinging strikes. All of this makes for a better OBP and more runs scored.
Another part of the Panda’s improved run production comes from having better hitters in the batting order around him. Pablo only had Buster Posey in the order with him until May 25th last year before Buster’s season ending injury. This year the Panda has had Buster along with Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and an improved Brandon Belt hitting around him to provide him more opportunities to either drive in more runs or to be driven in to score.
Last year after the All-Star break the Giants added Carlos Beltran through a trade with the New York Mets and Pablo finished the season very strongly. Here are his final numbers from last year.
The Panda always gets hot in his birthday month of August and if we know having better hitters in the batting order around him this year coupled with more patience at the plate has already improved the first half of this season, I would expect at least equal numbers in some areas but even better numbers than last year in the categories I detailed above that were already improved. So look for more Runs, RBI, Walks and OBP with similar numbers everywhere else except less strikeouts. The only problem for Pablo will be that even though he his getting more plate appearances per game (4.14 PA/G), he is on track to finish with 487 plate appearances if he plays in one more game than last season. This means he would still fall short of the 502 plate appearances (3.1 PA x 162 Games) required to have his stats qualify amongst league leaders.
by Raul Rekow Jr