Heading into the offseason Pablo Sandoval will only have one year left on his three year, $17.15 million contract. Many in the Bay Area believe it to be his last year in a Giants uniform as well. Personally, I do not understand this belief. Sandoval has been a force in the Giants lineup since he was called up in 2008, and it would be a huge mistake not to renew his contract past 2014.
I get it, the Panda is overweight. What I do not understand, is why fans feel that they cannot trust him. People have doubted him for his aggressive approach, his weight issues and his inability to stay healthy. While these are all valid concerns, I think its time everyone moved past them and realized that despite these issues, Sandoval has performed at the highest level for the Giants and is a great ballplayer. Not average, not good, but great. For those that cannot get past these issues, I challenge you to come up with a better third baseman that the Giants could sign. Good luck finding a guy with a .298 lifetime average, .350 OBP and .476 slugging percentage. In his “bad” years Pablo still hits above league average, and in his good years he finishes in the top 20 in MVP voting. Mid-way through the 2012 season, just like this year, people were starting to doubt Sandoval and began questioning his ability to stay fit and perform at a high level when it counted. He then proceeded to have one of the greatest post seasons in San Francisco Giants history. Sandoval was a huge reason why the Giants beat the Reds and Cardinals, hitting .333 and .310 in those series, respectively, with a total of three home runs and nine RBIs. Three home runs, where I have heard that before? Oh, that’s right, in game one of the World Series when Sandoval hit three long balls, two of which were off of the unhittable Justin Verlander. He then proceeded to hit .500 in the series and earn the MVP of the 2012 Fall Classic. This is an incredibly impressive accomplishment for any player, let alone a guy who has received the criticism that Pablo has. In fact his performance in the playoffs is what every GM dreams of but few ever realize, after signing a player with potential.
Sandoval is young and has made mistakes, but based on a successful career up to this point and the potential to recreate what he’s done in the past (3 homer game this year in pitcher friendly Petco Park), we should stop looking for reasons to ship him out of town. He just turned 27 years old, has proven he can overcome his “detrimental” weight issue to perform on the biggest stage imaginable in baseball, and has no more hamate bones to break! As of now it’s a no brainer to re-sign Sandoval past 2014, because as Bruce Bochy puts it, “You just don’t replace a guy like Pablo….There are few guys in Major League Baseball who can do the things he can do with the bat.”