Attention, San Francisco Giants fans: The Kung Fu Panda seems to have a case of homesickness.
No, I'm not referring to his homeland of Venezuela; rather, I think the portly, lovable third-sacker might be longing for the friendly confines of AT&T Park.
Don't believe me? Well then, let us take a look at the numbers; after all, the stats don't lie (neither do Shakira's hips, for that matter).
For starters, here's a rundown of Pablo's (stellar, phenomenal, stupendous, whatever superlative you like) season, through July 27:
If you want to dig a little deeper, let's take a look at Runs Created (A Bill James creation, click here for more info).
The following is a list of the NL leaders in RC:
1. Pujols - 103
2. Fielder - 91
3. Utley - 90
4. H. Ramirez - 82
4. Braun - 82
6. Dunn - 79
7. Victorino - 76
8. Reynolds - 75
9. Werth - 73
10. Hawpe - 72
10. Helton - 72
12. Sandoval - 71
Sandoval is in some elite company, but, on the surface, it's not overly impressive.
However, let's take a look at the same list, but this time we check their percentage of their team's total RC:
1. Pujols - 21.4% - 1st
2. Fielder - 18.2% - 3rd
3. Utley - 16.0%
4. H. Ramirez - 17.5% - 4th
4. Braun - 16.4%
6. Dunn - 16.3%
7. Victorino - 13.5%
8. Reynolds - 15.4
9. Werth - 13.0%
10. Hawpe - 14.0%
10. Helton - 14.0%
12. Sandoval - 18.3% - 2nd
Tad bit more impressive, isn't it?
Pablo's obviously been a huge factor in the Giants' success this year, and this is quite deserving of praise (It's also a major indictment of the rest of the Giants lineup; the next highest RC total behind Sandoval is a whopping 47, shared by Winn and Rowand).
Everything above, though, is to give you some perspective on just how dazzling the Panda's performance has been at the plate this year...
Which makes it completely baffling to see how stark the difference is between his home and away stats.
Again, let's send this one over to the numbers department (home splits listed on top, away splits on the bottom).
Obviously, Pablo has been underachieving when the Giants are playing away from San Francisco (although he still does better than other everyday players in the Giants lineup...hmm).
Interestingly enough, this really hasn't been noticed or mentioned all that much in discussion about Sandoval—in fact, I didn't really realize the disparity until I casually was browsing his statistics just a few days ago.
To me, this prompts the question: Could Pablo's lack of performance at the plate be a contributing factor of the Giant's abysmal road record (21-31, to be exact) this season?
My answer is yes.
I am is not saying that this is the main reason for our poor play on the road, but it certainly is a large issue—one that is unsolvable by anyone but Pablo himself.
My usual assumption about poor road play is that it is due to either the unfamiliar park, hecklers, or anything else that falls into the category of "home field advantage"—but Kung Fu Panda didn't have this sort of problem last year.
In fact, Sandoval road stats were better than his home stats last year (though in a smaller sample; click here for 2008 splits), so that would seem to invalidate most of the logical assumptions.
Do I have a solution for the problem? No.
Do I even know the cause? Again, No.
What I do know, however, is that the Giants will need their almost-All-Star third baseman to play better on the road if they want a shot at the postseason.
(Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com for most stats)
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