Pablo Sandoval needs to have a good year; no a great year, if the Fenway faithful are to ever love him.
He has spent two years in Boston and has posted a slash line of .242/.290/.361. This compares to his record of .294/.346/.465 while with the Giants. Underwhelming is the best word here to describe our time with panda.
To say he has been a disappointment is an understatement. He signed with the Red Sox for $90 million over five years.
So far he has been a complete waste of money.
In 2016 he arrived at Spring Training grossly unfit. His belt broke and his trousers split. He had his starting position taken away from him and deservedly so.
Where was the guy who had twice been an All Star, been the 2012 World Series MVP and had three World Series rings tucked away?
Somewhere along the line, Sandoval obviously woke up and smelt the coffee. He arrived at this year’s Spring Training in great shape.
He’d spent the off-season working hard. He lost weight, worked on agility, strength and conditioning. His shoulder was also fixed.
The work paid off. His Spring Training batting average is .390, an OPS of 1.027 with 20 RBIs. MVP indeed. He has also been swinging well from both sides of the plate and his defence is back where it was.
There has never been any doubt about his talent but as he acknowledges, he took the contract for granted.
Both Hanley Ramirez and Rick Porcello rebounded to have great 2016s. The jury is still out on David Price it would seem but Panda has the opportunity to be the ‘2017 Comeback Kid’ and preserve his legacy.
Fenway is a tough place to play. Fans expect these highly paid superstars to perform day in, day out.
Having the skills is a given, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Its the effort that counts.
Panda is on the verge of making a significant contribution to a run for the World Series.
The hole left by Big Papi needs to be filled and I really hope Pablo is one of the players who will be filling it.