We've been doing Pablo Sandoval projections since 2009.
Projected OPS: .748
Projected: I forgot to make one? Can't find it ...
Actual: .789, which is about 100 points lower than I would have predicted. Pretty sure of that.
Point is, he's a slippery fellow. You think he's up, and then he's down. You think he's down, and then he's up. You hear complaints about his weight, and then he starts bludgeoning opposing pitchers. You think he looks svelte, and then he hits like Eugenio Velez. And usually when he's at his worst in the regular season, the Giants win the World Series.
He's probably doing this for attention. It's best not to give in.
Here's what I predicted before the 2013 season:
Pablo Sandoval (projected)
Awwww, so precious. Look at the fanboy with his fanboy hopes and dreams. Let's check in on what he really did:
Pablo Sandoval (actual)
Dingers. Here dingers dingers dingers. Here dingers dingers dingers. Dingers? Dingers?
Man, I want a dog named dingers.
But if you're looking for what was different about Sandoval's season, it was an absence of power. And it's something of a minor miracle that he got to 14.
He was stuck on 10 before that display. I do enjoy having a yearly three-homer video to include with these community-projection reviews. Also, I never noticed that the Giants fan who caught the third one completely ate it.
Here's another video. It's a compilation of every homer Sandoval hit at AT&T Park from May 21 to September 24:
Actually, that's a sloth. And his name is probably Dingers. So we've come full circle. The point is that Sandoval didn't hit a homer at home for three months. That isn't something you expect from Gregor Blanco or Brandon Crawford, much less Sandoval. But the absence of 2013 homers brings up a disturbing question.
What if Pablo Sandoval just doesn't have a lot of power?
It seems ridiculous to ask because he's hit more than 20 homers twice, and he has two three-homer games in his career. But what if Sandoval's more of a Bengie Molina-type of power hitter than a Paul Goldschmidt-type, the latter of which is what I was secretly projecting as he entered his age-27 season?
A big part of this is the league. There just aren't as many home runs now. The top three home run hitters in the National League were Pedro Alvarez, Paul Goldschmidt, and Jay Bruce. Do you know who was fourth? I wouldn't have guessed it in 50 tries. It was Hunter Pence, with 27. The Giants actually had one of the most prodigious home run hitters in the league on their team. I knew that Pence had a good season, but I didn't know how it compared to the rest of the league.
Considering that, then, my explanation of Sandoval's power outage is one part fluky hiccup and one part dingers being down all over the place. He'll be fine, even if the expectations are permanently grounded in the 20-homer range for the time being.
The Giants better figure out which Sandoval's the real Sandoval soon. The Dodgers are running out of positions to spend money on, with the one obvious hole at third base. If you thought Brian Wilson was gross in blue, just imagine this nuclear scenario. So awful. So, so awful.
We can talk numbers another time, but if Pablo sends the Giants a shirtless selfie in February and looks only nominally fluffy, lock the sucker up. Five years? Five years. Do it before he goes berserk in the regular season, like 2009 or 2011. Take the lemons of the not-so-good 2013 season and make not-so-good lemonade with it.
Even with a career year from Pablo, the Giants weren't going anywhere last year. So at least they can use the down year to their advantage.