San Francisco Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval watches a splash home run head for the water as Arizona Diamondbacks catcher John Hester (L) looks on at AT&T Park in San Francisco on September 30, 2010. The Giants completed a sweep of the Diamondbacks with a 4-1 victory. UPI/Terry Schmitt
The news coming out of Spring Training is great for Pablo Sandoval. By all accounts, he's in great shape and hitting the cover off the ball. But after a disappointing season, it will take a little more then a hand full of spring exhibition at-bats to sell me on his resurgence.
There are two trends from last season that I want to see revered.
The first is the falling walk rate.
I don't expect Sandoval to turn into a walk machine, but in 2009, he showed encouraging signs with a walk rate that increased throughout the season and was in the low teens at the end of the season. The exact opposite happened in 2010. He started off with the patience (or pitchers being more careful with him) and then lost it as he pressed and became even more aggressive.
If Pablo can regain a walk rate in the 10-15% range, I will begin to buy into the long-term prospects for Sandoval again.
Next, his falling power:
If the walk rate was a cause for concern, the drop in the power numbers is cause to keep you up at night. In 2009, Sandoval was a surprising source of power and was able to do it from both sides of the plate. Sandoval established himself as "the" threat in the Giants lineup.
Again, 2010 is the opposite of that story. His power dropped like a stone and he became just an after thought in the Giants lineup as he moved from the heart to the bottom of the order. The one minor encouragement is that there was a slight rebound in the last month of the season and he still hit okay from the left side.
The workouts that he did this offseason focused on getting him stronger and more flexible to hopefully fight this downward trend. We'll be waiting to see if it pays dividends.
The early signs (and thin desert air) show signs that his power is returning, but again, I am skeptical until I see it in games that count and for a stretch that is longer than just a few games.
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