Let’s Give Pablo Sandoval Another Chance

Let’s Give Pablo Sandoval Another Chance

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Unpopular Red Sox fan opinion: Let’s give Pablo Sandoval another chance.

Yes, I can hear all of you calling me an idiot. Yes, I know that Panda is an unfortunately literal nickname. Yes, I know he’s injury prone, has had locker room issues, and hasn’t produced in a Red Sox uniform whatsoever.

I also know that David Ortiz just retired and we have holes to fill in our lineup. I know that the Sandoval back to the Giants rumors are just . . . rumors. I know that nobody is going to take Sandoval’s overpriced contract or give us anything of value for him. I know that Sandoval consistently produced in San Francisco. Most of all, I know that we don’t have a lot of other options whether within the organization or in a weak free agency market.

Prior to coming over to the Sox, Sandoval averaged an excellent .294/.346/.811 batting line in 7 seasons with the Giants. He hit 106 homers, drove in 462 runs, and never struck out more than 85 times in a season. In 2011, he was 4th in the NL in WAR (6.1). In 2012, he hit 3 homers in 4 games in the World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers, winning the WS MVP. Point is, Sandoval can play. Sure, in his one real season with the Sox, he had plenty of struggles. He hit .245/.292/.658 with 10 homers and 47 RBI, and we all know the rest of the story.

This year, with Sandoval out, we started Travis Shaw at 3B where he hit .242/.306/.726 with 16 HRs and 71 RBI, while noticeably dropping off in the second half. He played so poorly in the second half that Farrell ended up playing a lot of Aaron Hill, Brock Holt, and even Yoan Moncada in his place. Hill hit .218/.287/.577 with 2 HR and 9 RBI in 124 AB. Holt hit .255/.322/.705 with 7 HR and 34 RBI in 290 AB. Moncada, in limited action, showed he couldn’t hit a Major League curveball, striking out in 12 of his 19 at-bats, including 8 K’s in a row. Giving these stat lines a quick skim, I don’t see much improvement over Sandoval’s outlier of a miserable season. Looking further into the farm system, there are a few talented 3B prospects in Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, and Bobby Dalbec, but they are a few years away from MLB action. Between them and Moncada lies our future, but all four definitely need some time to grow in the minors.

Assessing the free agent market, there are only two legitimate options. The first is Justin Turner. Turner has had an excellent past few seasons with the Dodgers, and finished 9th in MVP voting in the NL this past season with a 27/90/.275/.339/.832 line. At 32 years old though, he’s looking for one final long-term deal, and, being one of the top hitters on the market, he’ll probably get it. MLBtraderumors.com projects him to go for around 5 years, $85 million, and a lot of teams will be calling. The other option is Luis Valbuena. The versatile infielder had by far his best season at age 31 this past year with the Astros, slashing .260/.357/.816 to go with 13 HRs and 40 RBI in 292 AB. A much cheaper option than Turner, Valbuena could be a neat fix, but is known for his inability to hit lefties. He’s not an everyday solution.

Looking at our options both internally and externally, I am convinced that giving Sandoval another shot is our best bet. At 30 years old, Sandoval is signed through 2019 with a team option in 2020, so he provides decent coverage for the young guys to develop. His worst season is quite comparable to the seasons that Shaw and Holt produced this past season, and if Hanley Ramirez and Rick Porcello are any indication, there is reason to believe that Sandoval has a shot at bouncing back and producing the numbers he had in San Francisco. Moreover, playing Sandoval at 3B would allow Shaw and Holt to fill in as utility men, where they have provided the most value in the past. Instead of potentially overpaying for a couple of good seasons of Justin Turner, we can put our money to adding another starting pitcher, improving our bullpen, or finding a replacement for Papi. Unless we make a trade for another third basemen, the Red Sox could do worse than trying Sandoval one last time.

So let’s all relax with the Sandoval hate. Sure, he deserves some of it, but he may very well be our top choice third baseman next season. One bad season doesn’t negate seven good ones. A resurgent Pablo Sandoval would be a massive bonus for the Red Sox lineup. Toss up a quick prayer for Panda’s waistline, and let’s hope the Porcello bounce-back magic can rub off on him a bit.Image result for kanye prayer gif

Twitter: @JLung11

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