What to do with Pablo Sandoval in the NLCS

When it comes to sites like this and internet baseball sites in general, there’s always going to be a measure of groupthink. It’s not because we’re sheep, it’s because we’re just so danged enlightened and always right. We knew that it was almost impossible for Javier Lopez to come over in a trade and be a complete wizard against every tough lefty in every crucial spot he was put it, so there was no need to overpay for him. I mean, Jack Taschner was on waivers, and he was free. Time has vindicated us all, so we’re going to raise a fist in the air, put our head down, and rage in the memory of John Bowker.

Most of the time, the answers are obvious. Should Barry Zito be on the postseason roster? No, and what did you have for lunch? Should Madison Bumgarner start the fourth game of the NLDS? Yes, and have you checked out New Indie Band yet? Easy questions beget easy answers.

Today, then, let’s get in a nasty, bitter brawl. Brother against brother. War between the memes.

Should Pablo Sandoval start in the NLCS?

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Yes.

Look, I like Mike Fontenot. He’s scrappy, he can work a count, and he’s extraordinarily handsome. But he’s not a stellar defender at third – he’s not nearly good enough to justify starting him on that reason alone. His line for the year is .283/.331/.375, which is right around where Pablo has been this year. Of course Pablo walks more and strikes out less, so…

Don’t wrinkle your nose and mutter "liar" under your breath. There are stats to back this up, dang it. Pablo Sandoval, even this year, has been the better hitter. The defensive difference was debatable even before both players had a poorly timed error in the postseason, too. Fontenot gives you a little bit more range, but Pablo has a better arm.

With Pablo, though, you get that bewitching, maddening promise when he’s in the lineup. You think about the April Pablo or the August Pablo, which just makes you throw your remote when you watch the May, June, July, and September Pablo flail at breaking balls that bounce on the pitcher’s mound before rolling to the plate. He just might be the most maddening player in Giants history, only because we’ve all seen how spectacular he can be when he’s right.

We know that Fontenot is Fontenot is Fontenot, which is a good player to have on the team, but not a key component of a decent lineup. There’s a steadiness with Fontenot that you aren’t going to get with Pablo, and that does mean something. But I’m an idiot. Thrice burned, fourwice shy. I think August Pablo might come back in the next four to fourteen games. It’s a hunch based on nothing more than wishful thinking. I just can’t imagine a deep postseason run without Pablo Sandoval contributing.

Maybe they make panda-flavored methadone. Maybe I can call my sponsor before things get out of hand. But I’m still hoping Sandoval gets the bulk of the playing time in the NLCS.

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