It's the same old song and dance. Pablo Sandoval is trying to improve his habits at both plates, whether it's dinner-time, or during the season.
Reports have reached the consensus that Pablo has shed over 20 pounds as of Christmas, and with spring training quickly approaching, one can only wonder how long he can keep his goals in sight.
Some Giants fans have written off the panda as nothing more then a marketing ploy to sell the hats, but if you take a look at his red-hot 2009 batting average which sat at .330, the idea of willing to work with him becomes much more feasible.
Let's take a look at some ways that Pablo, in true form, can help the Giants make a miracle into a repeat.
During the 2010 campaign, Pablo Sandoval swung at nearly 45 percent of all pitches outside of the strike zone. According to Yahoo Sports, only Vladimir Guerrero swung at more pitches that were off the plate.
Everyone seems to focus on his weight being the critical factor, but in my opinion, it's more of a discipline issue. He gained almost 30 pounds over the last year and a half which leads me to believe that he's not taking the necessary steps in order to improve his baseball knowledge, as well as his knowledge of health.
Baseball players have everything at their disposal: There's coaches of all kind, which probably includes a team cook. Pablo doesn't have excuses to make, but in the form of when he decides to swing, he's got to do a better job of locating the ball out of the pitchers hand.
On top of what he's accomplished thus far in the Arizona facilities, Sandoval will be center stage as far as his attitude in the batters box.
Sandoval had similar seasons in reference to the amount of times he stepped up to the plate in 2009 and '10, recieving about 560 at-bats in each season. His durability is consistent, as he's played in over 150 games in this same time span. The difference?
Obviously his production. Sandoval lauched 44 doubles, scored 87 times, and knocked in 90 runners in 2009. Compare that to last season, in which he had 34 doubles, 61 runs scored, and 63 RBI's.
His batting average also dropped from .330 to .268.
Changes such as these don't typically happen for no reason. Sandoval has been getting more frusterated with himself, leading to a 150 point dip in his slugging percentage.
The Giants had all the components to win in the playoffs last season, and most of them resided in the bullpen. There were many games in which the Giants could have used a big hit from Pablo, but all they recieved was a 3/17 showing in the playoffs. Granted, one of his hits was clutch, scoring two runners in a pivotal series against Philly.
The main point? Sandoval in 2009 form makes a repeat sound like a cake-walk. Well, maybe not as easy as us Giants fans would like to think
If Sandoval can continue to shed the weight, he will presumibly hit in the 5th slot within the line-up. Don't get me wrong, that is certainly best case scenario.
If the panda can continue his plight, that would mean that if the batting line-up shapes up like I think it will, the Giants would be sending one batter after another in a pattern: Left handed to right handed hitters appearing back-to-back in the first six spots.
In relation to an article I saw on SFGate.com, Jeff Shea mirrored my thoughts exactly. The 2011 batting line-up might look something like this:
7.Pat Burrell/Mark DeRosa
If such events transpire, the Giants will be a pitching match-up nightmare. This is also assuming that Pablo Sandoval finds himself in the five spot.
If not, I think Tejada wouldn't be a bad option hitting behind Posey. If Cody Ross can continue his inspiring play, the Giants will have a dynamic line-up all the way to slot number nine.
Remember that Sandoval is a switch hitter, so such a sequence is relative, nonetheless very intriguing.
The ability to hit from both sides of the plate can be effective, or it can add to a slump. Pablo Sandoval has seen both sides of the coin.
In 2009, he broke the Giants single season record for most hits by a switch hitter with 189. This past season, it looked as if he might want to stick with one side.
If Sandoval can regain his confidence from both sides, the Giants will have a middle of the line-up that will be very hard for relief pitchers to prepare for.
If the line-up is set as I suggested, or anything close, Tejada will be batting behind Sandoval in some capacity. Even if he bats ahead of Sandoval, both players success will be directy related.
Sandoval launches alot of doubles, a few triples, and hits deep, towering flys that could probably score Cecil Fielder from third. Tejada isn't the fastes guy these days, but if he can get on base, Sandoval might see a huge jump in his RBI total. There would be a good chance that Pablo steps up to the plate with at least two guys on frequently.
Going back to my proposed line-up, if Tejada can find the swing early in the year, and Sandoval returns to the line-up and produces as if it was 2009, Miggy Tejada might be able to be the guy with all the clutch RBI's. I know it's a hypothesis at best considering the two will have to come out and impress us, but there would be no greater catalyst for the 2011 Giants squad then to have two players that weren't a direct part of the title run, making plays when it counts.
The pitching staff would cetainly agree with this proposed hope.
Breifly stated, Sandoval is loved in SF. Few others can rally the crowd without actually setting foot on the field. His bat is important to not only the clubhouse, but for the fans who have embraced him.
Tejada could be the guy that see's the pitches right over the belt, making him a popular choice in my opinion for a breakout year.