Following Pablo Sandoval’s 2 home run game against the Twins, I think we’re all a little tempted to believe that 2017 is going to be a good year. Then you look up his batting average, and see he’s hitting well over .300 this spring. Yup, you’re probably feeling’ pretty good about this guy. So you check out some highlights of him fielding his position over at the hot corner. A couple flashy plays, nothing too atrocious; by now you’re probably pretty convinced that he’s the real deal. Before you go ahead and pencil him in for the AL batting title, Hank Aaron Award, and Gold Glove, you need to take a step back and look at what’s happened in Red Sox camp the past two Spring Trainings.
In 2015, we saw Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli hit .400 with 6 bombs during Spring Training. Keep in mind, the previous season Napoli hit .248 with just 17 homers and 55 RBI’s. He claimed that he was sleeping better after sleep apnea surgery, and that seemed reasonable enough. If he was hit 17 homers when he was tired all the time, who’s to say that he can’t hit 6 homers per month if he’s well rest? As we now know, that’s not quite how it worked out. In 98 games prior to being traded to Texas, Napoli hit .207 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI’s. In the regular season, Napoli had over 8 times as many plate appearances as he had in Spring Training, yet he only had about 2 times as many home runs and less than 4 times as many RBI’s..
In 2016, Travis Shaw went down to Fort Myers in competition for a roster sport, but by the end of March, he had been announced as the Opening Day third baseman. Shaw accomplished this by hitting .338 with 11 RBI’s and a .886 OPS. He went on to hit .329 for the first month and a half, and then from mid-May on he hit .211. As a whole, Shaw hit .242 with a .726 on the year. That’s about all you would expect from Shaw, but the expectations of the fans skyrocketed due to a fantastic Spring Training. And I’m afraid that’s exactly what’s happening with Pablo Sandoval.
Sure, he lost some weight. His swing might look a little better and he might be able to bend over in the field, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to hit during the regular season. All I can think about is the fact that he’s nearly missed an entire season of baseball and hasn’t played in a regular season game since April 10th of 2016. We saw last year with Christian Vazquez what a year out of the game can do to a player, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I am not trying to discredit the work that Pablo has put in over the last year, but I honestly couldn’t care less what he does in spring training. We have paid him about $38 million over the last two seasons, and he has yet to do anything in order to help the Red Sox win a World Series. So congrats to him on the solid start, but I want to see him do something that will help the Red Sox make it to the postseason in 2017.