Pablo Sandoval quickly became one of the worst decisions the Red Sox ever made, including trading Babe Ruth and enacting the Curse of the Bambino. Sandoval was also a disaster for those that invested a fantasy baseball roster slot in the corpulent corner infielder, as he was nigh-on useless in 2015 and notched seven plate appearances without a hit in 2016. Now, the common Sandoval refrain has hit, as he is in the third or fourth bout of the Best Shape of His Life. While the annual Sandoval BSOHL stories are great newspaper fodder, they rarely amount to anything and Sandoval is usually back to his same old Pudgy Panda self in no time. What if Sandoval bounces back, though? What if he takes the best part of his game and puts it all together in his age 30 season. Is he worth a draft pick at this point?
For starters, his lineup spot isn’t in question. The BoSox are moving forward with him or bust, as they moved both Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada, the only threats to his position, this offseason. So there’s that. When addressing Sandoval’s 2017, let’s take a look at the best fantasy baseball stats of Pablo Sandoval’s career, which was now six years ago. Sandoval’s 2011, with 23 HR, 55 R, 70 RBI, and .315 batting average in 466 plate appearances. Since that moment, it’s been pretty much downhill from there. Even if you exclude Sandoval’s lost 2016, since 2011:
- He has averaged 133 games a season, going over 145 games just once.
- He hasn’t hit over 16 home runs
- He has gone over 75 RBI once, and hasn’t topped 70 runs
- His average went from .283 in 2012, to .279 in 2014 and down to .245 in 2015.
- His slugging has gone down literally every year, from .552 in 2011 to .366 in 2015.
- He has stolen one base
Things don’t look great for Sandoval, as he has been on a steady, measurable decline since his 2011 peak. He can’t stay healthy, missing about 20% of each of the last five seasons, including basically all of 2016.
For argument’s sake, let’s say Sandoval returns to his 2014 numbers, his last “good” year, with the Giants (.279 average, 73 RBI, 16 home runs, 68 runs, zero stolen bases). None of these statistics are particularly good for the position, as these are essentially a less-power, more-average Eugenio Suarez from last season, and his .279/.324/.415 were basically Cheslor Cuthbert last year. Cuthbert was good for a stretch, but not a player you want to rely on. Keep in mind, this is the best case scenario for Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval’s annual BSOHL will get some to bite on him as a fantasy baseball commodity worth owning. Don’t be one of those who make that mistake. He’s been on a steady decline for the last half-decade, culminating in essentially missing all of 2016. In addition, there has been a resurgence in great third basemen, so even if Sandoval gets back to his career peak, he’s nothing better than a CI option. Don’t waste your pick, even past the twentieth round. There’s no value to be had there.