If were were starting an all-obese 2011 fantasy baseball team, the San Francisco Giants; 3B Pablo Sandoval would likely be a first round draft choice based on the visual evidence he supplied the public during a disgusting 2010 campaign. Sandoval had entered the season coming off a magnificent All Star 2009 year where he hit an unreal .330 with 25 home runs and so he was an early 2010 fantasy baseball draft pick in all leagues as a result. Well the bottom fell out quickly for Sandoval last season as he came to camp very overweight and showcased some of the worst plate discipline in the game in hitting .268 with only 13 home runs. Saying he was a bust was a major understatement.
With all that being said, there was much discussion this offseason about whether or not Sandoval would get himself into shape and heed the warnings from the front office that he had to shed the girth or find himself in the minors. As spring training camps opened this week, its been noted that Sandoval did in fact work hard in the offseason as its been said he reportedly dropped around 20 pounds. That no doubt will have a huge impact on his game this season and could certainly help Kung Fu Panda regain some of those lost stats from last season. So without delay lets get into what I think we can expect to see from Sandoval in 2011 fantasy baseball and what kind of numbers we could be staring at.
When it comes down to it, Pablo Sandoval has been a very solid hitter ever since being drafted. You have to have skill in this area to post an average as high as he did in 2009 and Sandoval looks like he has a gift of smacking a ball into where there are no fielders. The interesting thing here however is that its well known Sandoval is a hacker and even during his .330 bonanza two years ago, he routinely swung at just about anything near the plate. Although this is not the preferred method of hitting for a high average, some guy named Vladimir Guerrero carved out a Hall of Fame career hitting .300-plus every season while swinging from his shoelaces. So on that aspect alone, its very possible for Sandoval to return to a .300 level hitter as soon as this season. The .330 average in 2009 is unrealistic to expect again however as Sandoval had a high BABIP that helped him out some that year.
Now as far as the power is concerned, it took Sandoval 572 at-bats to hit those 25 home runs in 2009 and he didn’t profile as a pure slugger in that respect while in the minors. Still there is strength in his swing and so a run at 20 is also very possible if he is in fact in better shape entering the season. Yes it all comes down to the weight as it should. And really if Sandoval really did drop the excess like everyone says he has and if he can possibly lose a bit more, than we have to feel secure in knowing that his natural talent will take over as a result of his body putting less strain on his swing and allowing him to feel fresher. When you look at how shallow third base is this season, Sandoval is definitely someone to keep in mind during the middle stages of your draft as a decent bounce back candidate. After all he is still incredibly young at 25 years old and he wouldn’t be the first kid to fall off the track a bit as he becomes more professional. All in all I say this is a stock worth looking into as the chances of seeing a profit here as very good indeed. Just be prepared with a good alternative if things don’t work out here.
2011 PROJECTION: .307 BA 77 R 20 HR 88 RBI 4 SB