Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Kung Fu Panda Is A Fan Favorite In SF
Pablo Sandoval will not be a part of any package the Giants put together to go after Jose Reyes. He is a fan favorite in San Francisco and has some tremendous offensive skills.
When Sandoval came up to the Giants in 2008, he hit .345 in 145 at-bats. He proved that was no fluke in 2009 with a batting average of .330 to go along with 25 home runs and 90 RBI.
2010 was a frustrating year for the player affectionately nicknamed the Kung Fu Panda. The lovable, happy-go-lucky Panda was criticized for being woefully out of shape and swinging at terrible pitches. As his weight soared, his batting average and defense suffered.
Last year, the Panda hit only .268 and was so bad in the field that he was benched late in the year and into the post season. GM Brian Sabean warned Sandoval that if he was not in good physical condition coming into the 2011 spring training, he would find a bus ticket to Fresno in his future.
Sandoval took that threat to heart, as he worked out hard in the offseason and also got on a strict dietary program. Entering spring training, the almost svelte Sandoval had lost 45 pounds.
In the first month of the season, Sandoval hit .313 with five home runs and 14 RBI. His bat looked much quicker, and he was by far the Giants' best offensive player in April. A broken bone in his hand has put Sandoval on the DL, but he will return in another four to six weeks.
Defensively, the weight loss also helped Sandoval's mobility and instead of being a defensive liability, he became an above average third baseman.
In addition, Sandoval is still just 24 years of age and is currently making only $500,000. Although arbitration eligible for the next three years, he is under the Giants' control and cannot become a free agent until 2015.
The other thing is if the Giants traded Sandoval, what would they do with the thousands of panda hats they sell to young and old alike at the ball park?
All kidding aside, as long as Sandoval keeps his weight down and produces like he is capable, he and his infectious smile will be staying in San Francisco.