Friday, August 29, 2008

Giants IF Pablo Sandoval's Future a Weighty Issue

There was a time just a couple of years back that spray-hitting Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval looked a little like the Venezuelan reincarnation of Wade Boggs, a slow, 5-foot-11, spray-hitting, natural lefty of average gerth who can hit to all fields with gap power, but with limited defensive range and good hands and who throws right.

But that was more than 50 pounds ago.

In fact, over the past five years the 22-year-old South American has ballooned from 175 pounds to nearly 250, making him a formidable catcher -- his former and present secondary position -- but a defensively limited third baseman, shortstop and first baseman, all of which he can play in addition to backstop.

And also unlike Wade Boggs, Sandoval is ambidextrous and not only can switch-hit but can also throw left-handed if he chooses, giving him a distinct advantage making pickoff attempts from the plate to first base, depending on whether he wears a left-handed or right-handed glove.

Just exactly where he will fit in on the diamond remains to be seen. But in the meantime, the Giants will take full advantage of his bat, which during his limited introduction is producing at a .372 clip with a .535 slugging percentage, even though a number of his hits might have gone for doubles if only he could waddle around the basepaths a little faster.

Whether Sandoval remains at third base depends partly on whether he can bring his weight under control, and whether he can find a power stroke. Though power has never been a part of his game, he managed one homer in every 22 of his 175-bats at Double A Connecticut this season.

It's not difficult to project Wade Boggs type numbers for him over the remainder of his career, but unfortunately he will top 300 pounds by his 30th birthday if something isn't done soon.