While contract re-negotiations were tabled earlier this week, third baseman Pablo Sandoval continued to struggle on a massive level for the San Francisco Giants in early action. Entering the Giants’ first official “Orange Friday” of the 2014 MLB season, Sandoval had registered a relatively pathetic .132/.267/.237 batting line in 38 official at-bats. To add insult to injury, the 27-year-old veteran has recorded an abundantly pitiful .931 fielding percentage with two costly errors in 89.0 innings.
Although it remains distinctly unlikely for Sandoval to struggle at his current rate for the entirety of the season, the Giants’ front office brass ought to be relieved that contract talks have stalled. At the moment, Sandoval simply doesn’t look like a player capable of handling the immense pressure of a big time contract, despite boasting a slimmed-down figure. The 2012 World Series MVP is in perhaps the best shape of his life, but is playing at a catastrophically poor level to begin the first contract year of his big-league career.
The Giants need Sandoval to produce at a high level out of the No. 3 spot in the batting order. San Francisco currently averages 5.5 runs per game, but that figure will certainly tail off significantly if Sandoval continuously fails to help produce scoring chances. His struggles aren’t simply limited to the batter’s box, though. The “Kung Fu Panda” has been horrific in the field, arguably costing the Giants a win on Thursday night.
The man with a button-downed belly airmailed a throw to first base on a bunt that enabled the division rival Arizona Diamondbacks to tie the score and eventually pin down a win. Sandoval had an opportunity to redeem himself from what would have been a difficult play for any third baseman to make by coming up with a clutch, potentially game-winning hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Sandoval digressed, flying out to right field to send the Giants reeling.
Sandoval is obviously pressing in early action this season. It’s somewhat understandable, especially considering his desire to net a shiny new contract in excess of $90 million, which has ridiculously been dubbed a “starting point” by Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez of SPS Sports Group. At his current rate of production, a one-year deal totaling $3 million appears more appropriate. That hyperbole statement, also referred to as the Juan Uribe treatment (one-year, $3 million in 2010), is the type of contract typically handed down to players with obscene weight problems.
Sandoval is seemingly withstanding some kind of reverse osmosis of which has devoured his ability to crush baseballs. That realization has ultimately spurred the idea that perhaps Sandoval is better when he’s fatter. If his slimmed-down slump bleeds into the end of April, “Let Pablo Eat” will become a household trademark at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Panda is suffering from a severe case of starvation. Statistical evidence proves the rounder version of Sandoval is much more capable of helping his team win.