Thursday, April 2, 2009
Pablo Sandoval is the type of hitter fans love to watch. He'll swing at just about anything, and actually makes contact often enough that it isn't too painful to watch. I think Sandoval could surprise a lot of people in San Francisco this year, but I also think expectations might exceed his true capacity. In an article for ESPN, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey was quoted as saying, "I think (Pablo Sandoval is) a natural born hitter. I went out on a limb last year and said I think he's going to be another Albert Pujols. I know it's high praise, but that's kind of who he reminded of when he first came up."
No offense to Mr. McCovey, but Sandoval definitely ain't no Albert Pujols.
Here's a quick list of comps for Sandoval, including Albert Pujols. All stats are minor league averages.
Those are decent comps, but in terms of plate discipline and power, Sandoval comes in dead last. That doesn't mean he won't be any good, it just means that he's probably going to only be half as good as Albert Pujols. If he's lucky, maybe he'll turn into a Miguel Cabrera or Brian McCann and hit close to .300 his first few years with 20 to 30 home runs, and then have a career year or two with 35 or 40 home runs before his power begins to taper off.
Most projection systems have Sandoval hitting between .290 and .310 this year, with 17 home runs. I don't completely disagree with those numbers, but I think they could be off, maybe even severely off. Just looking at Sandoval's stats from 2007 and 2008 and excluding his stats from A ball, he actually projects as a .310 to .320 hitter with 25 to 35 home runs this year. I'm not saying it's going to happen, but it's definitely a possibility. I think it's important to at least give a bit more weight to his most recent stats, so I think the following stat line is reasonable for Pablo in 2009.
.315 Batting Average, 25 Home Runs, .830 OP, 85 RBI, 14% K%, 4% BB%
Definitely not a bad projection, but certainly not as good as Albert Pujols (.359 batting average, 43 home runs, 1.106 OPS at the age of 23).