Sandoval at bat in 2010.
|San Francisco Giants – No. 48|
August 11, 1986 |
Puerto Cabello, Venezuela
|Bats: Switch||Throws: right|
|August 14, 2008 for the San Francisco Giants|
(through 2013 season)
|Runs batted in||389|
|Career highlights and awards|
Pablo Emilio Sandoval (born August 11, 1986), nicknamed "Kung Fu Panda", is a Venezuelan professional baseball infielder for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB). He is a two-time All-Star and has won two World Series championships with the Giants. Sandoval hit three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, becoming just the fourth person to hit three home runs in a World Series game, and was named the World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Sandoval is a 5 foot 11 inch, 240-pound switch hitter. He was born left handed, but did not want to have to play outfield/first base all of his career. He therefore taught himself to throw right handed as well. He can still throw with both hands, but throws right handed during games.
In 2005, he was used almost entirely as a third baseman while playing for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. He hit .330 with three home runs and 50 RBIs. His batting average slumped in 2006 to .265. He had one home run and 49 RBIs with the Augusta GreenJackets that year, splitting time between first and third base. In 2007, he played for the San Jose Giants, hitting .287 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs. That season, he was used as a catcher and first baseman.
In 2008, he spent time with two minor league teams, the Single-A San Jose Giants and the Double-A Connecticut Defenders, before being called up to the majors. In 273 at bats for San Jose, he hit .359 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs. In 175 at bats with Connecticut, he hit .337 with 8 homers and 37 RBIs. In total, he hit .350 with 20 home runs and 96 RBIs in 2008.
Sandoval was called up to the Majors on August 13, 2008. He debuted the next day, August 14, going 0-for-3. In his first MLB plate appearance, he hit a sacrifice fly for an RBI. He got his first hit in the second inning of his next game, August 16, on his way to going 3-for-5. In 41 games in 2008, he hit .345 with 3 home runs and 24 RBI, striking out only 14 times in 154 at-bats. He hit his first MLB home run on August 27 off Liván Hernández of the Colorado Rockies.
On defense, the Giants used him as a catcher for pitcher Barry Zito,[when?] who gave Sandoval the nickname Kung Fu Panda after the rotund Sandoval scored a run against the Los Angeles Dodgers by acrobatically jumping over the tag of catcher Danny Ardoin.
In 2009 spring training, he batted .457, leading all batters with 80 or more at bats. On May 12, 2009, Sandoval hit his first walk-off home run to beat the Washington Nationals 9–7. In 2008, he had 145 at bats, he batted .345, while hitting into only 6 double-plays. After 73 games played, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler wrote that Sandoval had made the most impressive transition from the Giants farm system since 1986 when Will Clark and Robby Thompson were rookies.
Sandoval's first days in the majors were marked by a tendency to free swing. Giants hitting coach Carney Lansford noted that Sandoval contributed to the team's drawing the fewest walks in the National League at a time when the overall number of walks throughout baseball had increased. "As much as I try to get him to be disciplined, it's like caging a lion. He leaves the dugout ready to swing the bat. I literally tell him before every at-bat, 'Swing at a strike." Sandoval himself characterized his approach as: "See ball, swing." In July 2009, he was named a Sprint Final Vote candidate for the 80th annual All-Star Game for the final roster spot on the National League team. He was beat out by Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies on the last day of voting.
On July 30, 2009, Sandoval hit his first home run into McCovey Cove on Willie McCovey's 50th anniversary of his MLB Debut with McCovey in attendance. At the time of the home run, McCovey was being interviewed by Giants commentators Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow on the Giant's flagship station CSN Bay Area. Sandoval also made Giants history for most hits by a Giants switch-hitter in a single season with 189 in 2009.
Sandoval finished the 2009 season with the second-highest batting average among NL hitters, at .330, and finished seventh in NL MVP voting.
Sandoval, however, saw a sophomore slump in 2010, with a .268 batting average, 13 home runs, and 63 RBI. Overweight and unproductive, he was benched for Juan Uribe and limited to three at-bats in the Giants' 2010 World Series championship over the Texas Rangers.
Sandoval hired Triple Threat Performance of Tempe, Arizona to help him lose weight over the offseason and to help improve his performance. By the time that Spring Training started he had lost a reported 38 pounds. In his first three 2011 Spring Training games, Sandoval connected for 2 home runs.
Entering 2011, the Giants made a publicized campaign called "Operation Panda", which was aimed at getting Sandoval into better shape during the offseason and shedding the extra pounds. "Operation Panda" worked masterfully, with the third baseman losing 30-plus pounds, and more importantly, it led to results on the field for Sandoval. After a subpar 2010 season, Sandoval returned to his 2009 form. He got off to a good start in 2011, but suffered a broken hamate bone in late April and missed 41 games. On July 10, 2011, Sandoval was selected to the National League All-Star team. In his first All-Star at bat, Sandoval hit an RBI ground-rule double and the NL won the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
On September 15, 2011, Sandoval hit for the cycle at Colorado against pitcher Jhoulys Chacín. He had (in order) a two-run HR in the 1st, single in the 2nd, double in the 5th and a triple in the 6th. On September 19, 2011, Sandoval earned his first career "NL Player of the Week" Award. In 2011, Sandoval hit .315 with 23 home runs and 70 RBIs, which is a significant improvement from 2010. He only had 426 at-bats for the season, down significantly from his totals from 2009 and 2010 due to the injury he suffered.
On April 26, 2012, Sandoval hit a single in the 4th inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. This was the 19th consecutive game since Opening Day in which Sandoval had a hit, setting a Giants franchise record for longest consecutive hitting streak to begin a season. The previous record - of 18 games - was set by Johnny Rucker in 1945. On July 1, 2012, it was announced that Sandoval had made his second All-Star team, as starting third baseman for the National League. On July 10, 2012, at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, Sandoval highlighted the N.L.'s five-run opening inning with the first bases-loaded triple in the history of the Midsummer Classic off of Justin Verlander.
On October 24, 2012, in Game One of the 2012 World Series, Sandoval hit three home runs — two of them off reigning Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. He joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols as the only players in MLB history to hit three home runs in a World Series game, and is the first in history to hit those home runs in his first three plate appearances (in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th innings). On October 28, Sandoval was named the World Series MVP. He also won the Babe Ruth Award for his overall postseason performance.
Sandoval was born in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo, Venezuela. Sandoval is a devout Roman Catholic, and blesses himself after each base hit. He attributes his success to his faith, saying it is important to be "seizing the opportunities offered in life by God and the need to fight tirelessly, not to survive but to excel."
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- Morosi, Jon Paul (October 25, 2012). "Panda has memorable night in Game 1". foxsports.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012.
- "Pablo Sandoval's Weight Loss Update". crazycrabbers.com. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
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- "MLB - San Francisco Giants/Colorado Rockies Box Score Thursday September 15, 2011 - Yahoo! Sports". Yahoo.
- Kruth, Cash (2011-09-19). "Panda named NL Player of the Week". Retrieved 2012-02-22.
- "Sandoval breaks Giants' early hit streak mark". MLB.com. 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
- Haft, Chris (2012-10-25). "Sandoval's homer trifecta gives Giants Game 1 win". MLB.com. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
- "Pablo Sandoval hits three home runs". ESPN.com. October 25, 2012. Archived from the original on October 29, 2012.
- Feinsand, Mark (November 14, 2012). "Mets' Dickey already Toasted, wins local honor". Daily News (New York). Archived from the original on November 21, 2012.
- Official website
- Pablo Sandoval on Twitter
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)