by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Giants’ Pablo Sandoval has long been one of the most frustrating players for fantasy owners to own. He’s had some big years, earning name value, but more times than not he’s been a bitter disappointment. The 2013 season fell into the latter category as he posted the following numbers:
525 At Bats
.278 Batting Average (146 Hits)
14 Home Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.341 On Base Percentage
.417 Slugging Percentage
Sandoval has never had a problem with strikeouts, and last season was no exception. He posted a 13.5% strikeout rate, the fifth consecutive season he was between 13.1% and 13.5%. In other words, nothing disappointing there.
A lot of his problems came in the first half, when he posted a .266 average courtesy of a 20.0% line drive rate and .283 BABIP. Sandoval is slow, so we can’t expect an elevated BABIP (career mark of .316), but this was a bit extreme. In the second half his line drive rate rose to 23.0% and his BABIP jumped to a more palatable .325, leading him to a .294 average.
He’s now posted a line drive rate above 20% in four of his past five halves, so it’s a very realistic mark to expect. That should mean a good average, especially with his strikeout rate, with .285+ being a fair expectation. While he’s hit over .300 in the past, it’s not really safe to assume.
The power is a completely different animal. While he’s had years over 20 HR, he’s been at 14 or fewer in three of the past four seasons. Just look at his HR/FB over that span and pick out what doesn’t fit:
- 2010 – 7.0%
- 2011 – 16.0%
- 2012 – 9.5%
- 2013 – 8.3%
Could he have a power surge? It’s not impossible, but it also isn’t likely. Throw in his inability to run, meaning literally no stolen bases or runs scored, and Sandoval starts to become a tougher sell.
You put everything together and get the following projection for 2014:
.294 (147-500), 19 HR, 80 RBI, 65 R, 1 SB, .308 BABIP, .353 OBP, .476 SLG
He is in a contract year, so you can argue that there will be extra motivation to produce. Could that lead to him being in better shape? Could it lead to better production? It’s realistic, but I also wouldn’t want to pencil him in as my starter expecting it to be the case. If you can draft him as a backup with upside, there’s no downside. However, don’t overpay based on the name. He’s burned us all too many times for that. While the projection is palatable, there’s a very good chance he falls short of our expectations.
Source – Fangraphs