by Kyle Soppe
The last MLB game you watched ended with Pablo Sandoval rocking a “World Series Champions” T-shirt and grasping the MVP trophy. Remember that? Odds are that you do, but fail to remember the subpar regular season the Kung Fu Panda had. In your fantasy baseball league, remind me again, did you get credit for a single one of his six postseason homers? How about his 1.098 OPS, did that give you an edge?
Postseason success isn’t always a bad thing in fantasy sports, but it does have a way of sticking in your head longer than it should. Come back to this article when it is time for Fantasy Football, as we will be having the same discussion about Joe Flacco: great nickname, historical postseason run, and a mediocre fantasy contributor. In addition to the inflated value Sandoval has gained in your subconscious, there are a few tangible reasons to avoid the pudgy third basemen.
He came into training camp this season at a robust 262 pounds, 16 over his playing weight from last season. I don’t doubt that this man has a higher playing weight than most human beings, but when you consider that the Hamwi formula (a widely trusted “healthy weight” calculator) states that 262 pounds is a healthy weight for a 7’4” male with an active lifestyle, you have to question the 5’11” Sandoval’s ability to produce at a high level at his current weight. The Giants aren’t happy with the added weight while Sandoval doesn’t see a problem with it: “I feel in shape. Who cares what other people say”. Even if you don’t buy the weight as a problem, the fact that he and management are on opposite sides of the fence very well could become an issue should he struggle out of the gate.
Pablo Sandoval the baseball player has played in just 225 regular season games over the last two seasons, making it hard to count on him for a full slate of games in any given year. Not including his rookie season, Sandoval has averaged 490 at bats per season, so I’ll use that benchmark to provide projections for the Giants man at the hot corner. Based on his career marks, a 490 at bat season would include 18.3 home runs, 71.6 RBI, 63.6 runs scored, and a .299 batting average. Those aren’t bad numbers, but are they really what you want out of your starting third basemen? Those numbers are nearly identical to the 2012 version of Miguel Montaro , a fringe top 10 catcher. Those 18 home runs would have been tied for the 17th best total among third basemen last season, 72 RBI would have ranked 15th, and 64 runs would tied him for 19th. Where is the upside for Sandoval? He bats in front of Buster Posey, which is nice, but with career journeymen Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro batting ahead of him, he doesn’t figure to get much help. He lacks consistent plate discipline from year to year (his batting average has moved at least 32 points in each of his last four seasons), a problem in an offense that can’t rely on the long ball. AT&T Park in San Francisco was the second hardest place (according to Park Factor) to score runs and doesn’t give up cheap home runs. The division isn’t going to do Sandoval any favors either, as the Dodgers might have the best starting pitching duo in the majors and the Diamondbacks have nice pitching depth.
When all is said and done this season, Sandoval’s name is likely to be of more value than his on the field production. He is currently being touted as a top 85 overall player (and top 10 third basemen) by both Yahoo (65th overall and ninth at his position) and ESPN (81st and 10th). When you take into account upside Sandoval is a tough sell as a top 100 player, and with a variety of promising youngsters at third base this season, Sandoval’s days as a fantasy starter may be limited.
Kyle recently graduated college, with his final credits coming via a fantasy writing internship. Name the place and the time and Kyle is ready to discuss/debate the day’s top fantasy issues. He’s always got updated rankings in his pocket, and is more than willing to offer his insight on any issues you may come across in your quest for a fantasy football crown.
Kyle uses cold hard statistics to back his arguments, and combines humor with numbers when the opportunity presents itself. Kyle is pursuing a potential career in the field of fantasy sports (MLB, NBA, and NFL) as this is his true passion. Follow and tweet Kyle @unSOPable23 for the latest and greatest fantasy information or email him mailto: KylePickinSplinters@rochester.rr.com if you’d like an opinion longer than 140 characters.