Monday, April 18, 2011

Stay Hot Pablo Sandoval!

Stay hot Pablo Sandoval. Please God, stay hot.

Seriously. Stay hot. Stay in control of your at bats, and stay in control of your eating and everything else.

If exponentially more tail being thrown at him and 4 HR in April aren't enough to keep him on the path to All-Stardom, I don't know what will.

Pretty amazing that we could win a World Series in a year when a guy we counted on so much to contribute consistently frustrated us.

He's hitting now like he did two years ago. He's lining the ball from both sides of the plate, he's nimbler at third base, and those shoestring swing-throughs last year are once again singles and doubles.

I am just so damn proud of him, and it means so much to the Giants on and off the field that Panda is successful.

He sells merchandise, to the tune of millions of dollars annually. He makes Giants fans out of little girls that might ordinarily not care about baseball. Any player that creates lifelong Giants fans is a goddamn golden goose.

So much about his blazing hot start and new physique really depends on Pablo himself.

Teams and pitchers will reevaluate their scouting reports and readjust to him. Will Pablo be able to adjust on the fly? He wasn't able to do that last year when they threw him nothing but junk.

It certainly looks like Pablo is a new man at the plate, as I'm seeing him take pitches he'd have swung at last year, and making contact with pitches he'd have swung through last year.

And it's not so much that he's even seeing a bunch more pitches per plate appearance. With this year's small sample size, he's seeing 3.8 pitches per plate appearance, compared to 3.4 all of last year. It's an increase, but he's still his free-swinging self.

Honestly, the percentages haven't changed much AT ALL. I looked through all the Fangraphs nerd percentage stats, and found that he's actually swinging at 68% of pitches in the strike zone, a full 10% less than he did last year. He's swinging at nearly the exact rate of pitches outside the zone as he did last year. So honestly... how is this success happening?

It's not contact percentage. Nope. He's actually slightly down from last year.

In fact, nearly all his percentages and numbers are exactly the same except for his success at the dish.

I honestly didn't expect to find any of these results. I expected a correlation; something that jumped out. I got nothing.

The only things-- and I mean the ONLY things-- that the stats and percentages show about his behavior is that he's having success. His BABIP (Batting Avg. on Balls in Play) is at .359... and that is very, very good. Last year, he hit .291 with BABIP.

He's striking out at a slightly higher rate, walking at a slightly lower rate. None of it makes sense...


Camp Panda actually worked, and it really WAS his physical conditioning that prevented him from success in 2010.

Practice, dedication, and a more physically fit Pablo Sandoval are the only differences between this year and last. He lost 40+ lbs. and that really is substantial.

Pick up 5 gallons of milk, or one of those big 45 lb. plate weights at the gymnasium. It's significant.

As a fat guy apologist, I didn't believe his weight had as much to do with his struggles as his simple inability to focus and calm down at the plate. I advocated for Adderall, the thing that made Andres Torres into a top 30 outfielder.

I don't know if he's on St. John's Wart or Ginko, or Ritalin, or just chicken breasts, but it's frickin working, and he needs to continue.

If you're one of these skinny jerks with rapid metabolisms, then screw you. But seriously, I know how hard it is to lose 40 lbs and how much self-control is necessary to maintain the a diet like that.

It's really tough, especially when you love to eat. So I definitely understand what Pablo's accomplished and the type of dedication it requires to get it off and keep it off. It's almost harder to keep it off than it was to lose it in the first place.

With gourmet clubhouse spreads of God-knows-what greeting the Panda at every game in every city, there is a danger of regression. It's almost like as if Josh Hamilton was greeted by an alcohol and drug buffet before and after every game. Seriously. That's not a joke. It's not supposed to be funny. It's true and it's the same.

The early success of Pablo Sandoval has been up there with Aaron Rowand's production as the best story of April. And I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. These two guys love the game and want so badly to succeed, and they finally are.

Since there is no statistical evidence as to why Pablo is doing so well, I can come to no other conclusion other than this:

His conditioning and newfound dedication to improvement has led to success. Let that be a lesson to all of us, and STAY HOT PABLO SANDOVAL.

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