Pablo Sandoval: Baseball's Surprise Player of the Year

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent IAugust 23, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 02:  Pablo Sandoval  #48 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Philadelphia Phillies during a Major League Baseball game at AT&T Park on August 2, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Giants are currently hitting .262, which is the same exact batting average they had at the end of last season.

I was expecting to see some improvement with the team having the second best hitter in the league in Pablo Sandoval. He is currently hitting .333 and has been consistent all season.

Sandoval had 15 too many at-bats in 2008 to qualify for NL Rookie of the Year in 2009.

For a player who has been 22 most of the season, Sandoval has to be my surprise player of the year.

He is tied for third in hits with Ryan Braun, both sitting at 148. Most amazing to me is that he is fifth in the NL in extra-base hits, tied with Andre Ethier at 59. They are only 11 extra-base hits behind the leader, Albert Pujols, who has 70.

Sandoval's 37 doubles—a surprising total considering he is 5'11" and 245 pounds—lead the NL.

The Venezuelan was 23 on Aug. 11 and is in position to be a force for the Giants for many years to come.

He's hit 19 homers and driven in 72 runs. Hitting .359 for the month of August, Sandoval is showing he's not intimidated by the pressure of being in a pennant race.

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After his first 30 at-bats, he had only five hits and was hitting .179. By the end of April, he was hitting .307.

It was evident last season that Sandoval would be a power hitter. He hit 23 homers and drove in 120 runs at three levels. He started the season in A ball, advanced to Double-A, and then played for the Giants, hitting .345 in 145 at-bats with the big club.

There is no doubt that pitching has been the main factor in the Giants' emergence as a contender in the NL West. However, Sandoval has done his part to help the offense.

It is safe to say that we will be hearing the name of Pablo Sandoval for many years to come.