No matter where Pablo Sandoval ends up playing on the field for the San Francisco Giants in 2009 and beyond, there's one thing that's for certain: The kid is going to hit.
The burly Venezuelan has done nothing to diminish his standing as one of the Giants' best young hitters this spring. In 38 at-bats in March, Sandoval has hit .447 with two home runs and six RBI.
That's right...a .447 batting average.
Combine that effort in the Venezuela Winter League where he just completely tore the shell off the ball to the tune of .396 in 52 games, and it looks like Sandoval hitting .300 this season is almost as safe of a lock as a No. 1 seed betting a No. 16.
This kind of performance two weeks before the Giants head north to host the Brewers on Opening Day, there's no reason to think that Sandoval won't keep hitting. It's his bat that brought him to the majors after he shot through the minor league system last season, and it will be his bat the will keep him in the lineup on an everyday basis.
He raked in his two months with the Giants last season, he's raked this spring, and he will probably rake when the season begins.
Sounds good to me.
Now I know it’s Spring Training and I know that stats in the spring don’t really matter in the big scheme of things. But when a guy who is hitting close to .450 for the majority of the spring, it’s going to catch a few people’s attention.
Yet despite all the happy talk about Sandoval and prowess at the plate, the question remains whether he can handle the daily grind defensively at third base.
General manager Brian Sabean said in Wednesday's San Francisco Chronicle that, "It's tough to evaluate Sandoval yet because we're not at the point where you're playing guys two or three days in a row."
While he has made big strides defensively this spring, the jury is still out on whether third base is where Sandoval will finish the year. Travis Ishikawa has basically locked down the starting job at first with a solid spring, so Sandoval will at least begin the season at third.
But if Ishikawa struggles, we might very well see Sandoval shift across the diamond and give somebody else, maybe Jesus Guzman who has had an incredible spring, a chance to prove their worth.
Whatever the case is, the Giants are at the point where they can't afford to have Sandoval's bat out of the lineup. The offense is less-than average as is, and if Sandoval was to be taken out to do poor defense, it would probably go back to being one of the worst in the majors.
If Sandoval can be just average defensively, nothing spectacular, doesn’t make too many errors, his bat will certainly make up for it.
No matter what, the boy is going to hit and the Giants are going to be the recipient of one of the best young hitters to come through their system in quite some time.
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