Revisiting The Pablo Sandoval Signing

by Mark Gallant | Posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2015
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If you haven’t noticed, some of the Red Sox offseason acquisitions have not fared well so far. Hanley Ramirez has been decent at the plate, but his transition to the outfield isn’t working. The starting pitchers haven’t performed well, but you could make the case that luck hasn’t gone their way. Pablo Sandoval, on the other hand, is the worst signing of the bunch.

The Red Sox were in a difficult situation this offseason when it came to third base. Will Middlebrooks had suffered a slew of injuries and his performance suffered with them. Xander Bogaerts clearly wasn’t adapting to the position after being placed there for part of the 2014 season. With no other real in-house options, the Red Sox had to look to the market to fill the hot corner. With the only two real free agent options being Chase Headley and Sandoval, maybe they should have looked for a trade partner. Instead, they overpaid for a postseason superstar whose regular season numbers have been in decline.

More than two thirds into the season, “Kung Fu Panda” isn’t anywhere close to the player the Red Sox thought they were signing. In fact, he may be the worst player in the MLB. According to fWAR, Sandoval is the worst position player in the game. There have been 571 players with an at-bat this year and Sandoval ranks dead last among them with an fWAR of -1.3.

Offensively and defensively, Sandoval has been a train wreck. I’ve tried to find some statistics that go in his favor and the only one that helps him out is his BABIP. Sandoval’s batting average on balls in play is only .279, the lowest of his career and about 20 points lower than league average. However, this could be explained by the fact that he isn’t hitting the ball nearly as hard as he used to.

According to Fangraphs, Sandoval’s percentage of hard hit balls is only 23.8%. His previous low had been 29.3% and his career average had been closer to 31%. Obviously, the slower the ball comes off the bat, the easier it will be for the defense to make a play.

Not only is he hitting poorly, but his approach at the plate has been ugly. Out of 156 hitters qualified for the batting title, Sandoval swings at the most pitches outside of the strike zone, a whopping 47.5% of the time. To put this into context, the league leaders are down around 20%. However, this should come as no shock because he actually swung at 48.1% of pitches out of the zone last year. He’s never been below 44.6% in any given year.

We also shouldn’t forget his switch hitting disaster that he began the season with. A career long switch-hitter, Sandoval somehow became completely lost from the right side of the plate this season. He often looked off balance and his swing mechanics looked nothing like a major league baseball player’s should. After going 3-51 batting righty, he has actually been halfway decent hitting lefthanders from the left side, batting .281. Yet, most of these hits have been weak singles, as he’s recorded just two doubles and hit the ball hard 5.9% of the time.

In the field, you wouldn’t expect much from someone like Sandoval, but he’s actually had some success in past seasons. In San Francisco, Sandoval had a net of zero runs saved at third base in parts of seven seasons. His best year was 2011, when he saved 15 runs, while his worst was 2009, when he cost the team 11 runs. In 2014, he was a middle of the pack defender, saving four runs, so there was no reason to believe that Sandoval was about to become the worst third baseman in the league. Through 100 games played this season, Sandoval has cost the Red Sox 14 runs which is indeed the worst out of all third baseman and fifth worst overall. Unfortunately for Red Sox pitchers, the man behind Sandoval in left field, Hanley Ramirez, has cost the team 17 runs, the second most in baseball.

If you’ve been watching Red Sox baseball on a nightly basis, you probably aren’t surprised by these statistics. He’s statistically the worst player in baseball or at his position in several categories and that doesn’t help a team reach the playoffs. There could be a few reasons for his subpar performance. His weight could be catching up to him. He might not be giving his full effort. He might be unhappy in a city whose baseball players are looked at under a microscope. Whatever it is, the Red Sox might end up eating a big chunk of his money in a trade— if they can find a team to take him, that is.

(All statistics provided by

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Mark Gallant
About the Author

Mark has contributed to isportsweb, the Yawkey Way Report, Fansided's Chowder and Champions, and The Hockey Writers. He is also the host of the weekly radio show Top Shelf Sports on Bryant University's WJMF radio. Follow him on Twitter @TopShelfSports5

  • I have been hating him since almost the start of baseball this year. He’s nothing but a fat ass & making errors all the time. Hope the Red Sox get rid of him & put Holt on 3rd. base.

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