Pablo Sandoval's Return to the San Francisco Giants: 5 Bold Predictions
The San Francisco Giants' Kung-Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval, returns to the lineup today for the ailing squad. Before the Panda was rudely placed on the DL by the baseball gods, he was a force to be reckoned with, rivaling his numbers from the 2009 season.
The return of every San Franciscan's favorite jolly third baseman (catcher/first baseman?) should certainly be watched with careful eyes. Here are some rather bold predictions for the Panda.
5. Sandoval Will Lead the Giants in Home Runs
Not quite bold, I know. Given the Giants' very potent offense (sarcasm), the Panda should have a pretty good shot at taking the team's home run title. He already has five HRs and has been on the DL for quite some time. With Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff slumping at the plate, someone has to step up.
The Kung-Fu guru dropped an incredible 40 (or 45, depending on who you ask) pounds this offseason and looked to be back on track. The discipline he showed in the offseason seemed to translate to the plate.
4. Sandoval Will Homer in His First Game Back
This is definitely more bold than the previous prediction, but it could still happen. When Sandoval went to Salt Lake with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies, he put up an 0-fer after playing the entire game at first base. That doesn't bode well for this prediction, but Sandoval has been rumored to be very antsy the past few weeks.
Don't be surprised if he only takes a couple ABs to launch one into the stands in Arizona.
3. Sandoval Will Lead the Giants in Batting Average
Some may be wondering if this could actually happen, but hear me out. With Freddy Sanchez and Buster Posey gone, there aren't a whole lot of consistent hitters left on the Giants' bench.
Right now, Huff is leading the batting average among active players with a whopping .234. Not very potent, if you ask me.
Sandoval left with a .313 batting average. He'll come back and be better than ever, adding to that average and leading the team through the end of the season. Unless Brandon Crawford, Andres Torres, Nate Schierholtz or any other Giant steps up, Panda will have to be the one to do it.
2. Sandoval's Return Will Spark the Offense
Pablo Sandoval will be the catalyst that sparks what little offense the San Francisco Giants have. You read it here first.
First, he brings a lot of energy to the clubhouse. That energy will—hopefully—transfer to the rest of the team, all of whom seem to be demoralized by the loss of Buster Posey, Sanchez and half of the rest of the roster.
Second, with Sandoval back in the lineup and hitting well, the other guys will see better pitches. If Sandoval is hot at the plate, pitchers won't want to face him. That allows the other batters to see better pitches. Yes, I may have jumped to conclusions there, but this is a bold prediction. Hence the title.
Third, if the above happens, the Giants offense will spark and become more like the offense seen in the playoffs and the run up to the postseason. Look for Cody Ross, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff to wake up and smell the HRs.
Does anyone else miss Cody Ross' home run skip before the jog around the bags? I do.
1. Sandoval Will Play Most Games at Catcher
Let's face it, Buster Posey is gone for the season. Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart have not been good as of late. Tim Lincecum is struggling. No one really knows why, but it's possible that he's feeling the loss of Posey more than most.
Again, enter the Panda.
Sandoval originally came up as a catcher. He's pretty comfortable behind the dish. After a few bullpen sessions, he should be able to handle some, if not all, of the starting rotation. Bruce Bochy even suggested that Sandoval could catch about two days a week. I wouldn't be surprised if it was longer.
Adding onto this rather bold prediction, he will excel at the position. He will do rather well at the plate, in terms of catching and hitting.
When that happens, the Giants and Bochy would be hard-pressed to move him. Look for him to lead the Giants back to the postseason by spending a lot of time catching the imposing Giants pitching staff.