A persona is a funny things. Personae often cloud the mind of observers, taking the place of where actual cognitive recognition should go. A player develops a persona and it is all we can see.

Pablo Sandoval gets it from two sides. He not only presents the persona of a funny loving, free swinging Kung Fu Panda, he is rotund with a wacky hair cut. He’s fat! Not just fat for a baseball player, fat for a regular guy. That takes some doing.

While losing 40 pounds puts a significant dent in the fat guy persona, he is still fun and…oh yeah: a really good baseball player. The San Francisco Giants noticed Panda’s goodness and signed him to a three-year deal yesterday, buying out all three of his arbitration seasons for a total of $21.5 million dollars.

The Giants, flush with cash as they are, will pay Sandoval $3.2 million for the coming season, $5.7 million in 2013 and $8.25 million in 2014, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. That is a rather ridiculous deal, when you think about it.

Pablo Sandoval, you see, is very good. Even with his down year in 2010 and missing most of May and June with a wrist injury, Sandoval is the proud owner of 14 fWAR over the last three years.

In just less than 1900 career plate appearances, Sandoval owns a .307/.356/.501 slash line, which translates to a .362 wOBA. Add the significant gains made in his third base defense and you have a player, a heck of a player, working for not a tremendous amount of money.

Applying the 40/60/80 scale the previously mentioned figures, Sandoval’s deal represents annual amounts of $8/$9.5/$10.3 (millions) on the open market. For a player worth more than 5 fWAR in his rookie season and another 5 fWAR in less than 500 plate appearances, that represents a decent bargain.

Sandoval’s deal is not without risk. Only Adrian Beltre features a lower walk rate among elite hitters in the Major Leagues. Both are free swinging third basemen with significant pop though Beltre is one of the very best defensive third basemen of all time. Pablo Sandoval is unlikely to reach Beltre’s level of run prevention though Beltre shows that hackers can still prosper at the big league level.

The weight questions are likely to dog Sandoval for the rest of his career, nay life. If Sandoval can keep the extra weight off, he’ll be fine. Just as the whispers and murmurs surround Prince Fiedler, people worry about a big dude’s ability to stay healthy.

The Giants show faith in their young (still just 25 years-old) infielder’s willingness to stay fit and stay productive and a young player has his future secured before he hits free agency at 29. A good deal all around, not something we can often say when the Giants front office is involved.

Comments (1)

  1. Have always loved the panda. Also one of the best nicknames in sports today

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