Welcome to BP Boston’s second annual Roster Recap series. Over the next few months, we’ll be analyzing every player on Boston’s 40-man roster and many of their top prospects in order to provide a comprehensive overview of the Red Sox roster’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as what we can expect moving forward. From MVP-candidate right fielders to reserve relievers, we want to give you a look at every Red Sox who might matter in 2017. View the complete list of Roster Recaps here. Enjoy!
So much of the 2016 season was a success for the Red Sox, and much of that was due to comeback performances. You needn’t look any further than the first two installments of this series to get that idea. Sure, the young core taking a collective step forward and David Oritz being a god were big helps, but they couldn’t have done it on their own. Hanley Ramirez and Rick Porcello were both big, expensive question marks back in March, and they both came through in big ways. Then, there’s Pablo Sandoval.
This was a lost season if there ever was one, as he missed almost the entire season after losing out on the starting job anyway. Even despite missing essentially the whole year, he had one of the more embarrassing moments for any player in recent memory, which we’ll get to later. Even in such a positive season, I’ll always be here to remind you that life is pain. You’re welcome.
What Went Right in 2016
Well. Uh. Ummmm. Give me a second. *Scratches head and clears throat hoping you’ll walk away*
Sandoval drew a walk in one of his seven plate appearances, which is one more than his number of hits. Of course, it was against Arnold Leon, a pitcher who made two appearances in 2016. Sandoval also struck out three times in that game. Fun!
Remember when I mentioned him losing his starting job in the spring? Clearly, that’s not a positive, but he got through the situation without melting down through the media. We’ll call that a positive. Oh, and he also entered spring with the team complimenting his weight.
That’s literally it for this section. Good lord.
What Went Wrong in 2016
There isn’t a big enough sample to really look at Sandoval’s numbers from this past season, but we’ll do it anyway. In seven plate appearances, he hit .000/.143/.000. That’s zero hits and the aforementioned walk. It is also a .089 TAv. This is very clearly not his true-talent baseline, but it is all we saw of him in regular season baseball and it was Bad.
If you want a bigger, yet still flawed, sample, we can look at spring. Since we already know he was benched in favor of Travis Shaw based on spring performances, it would’ve been a safe bet his Grapefruit League performance was bad. He hit .204/.231/.408 in 19 games. The .204 Isolated Power is nice, but the overall performance stunk.
Then, of course, there was the injury. He first hit the disabled list with his shoulder injury on April 13, and the rest of the month was filled with speculation about just how bad it was. There were second opinions and some people irresponsibly questioning legitimacy of the ailment. This was mixed in with his former trainer saying Sandoval needed to be “babysat” with his diet, which was a whole ‘nother can of worms. Then, by the time May rolled around, it was announced that he’d need surgery and would miss the rest of the year. Obviously, we can’t really blame Sandoval for this turn of events, but it’s a negative nonetheless.
Above all of these other negatives, though, we have this. I mean, come on. This is clearly just a freak accident, but it couldn’t have happened at a more inopportune time. That vine encapsulates Sandoval’s season — and his entire Red Sox career, to be honest — better than any words I can come up with.
Outlook for 2017
I’m not going to lie to you. I have no idea what to expect from Sandoval in 2017, and you shouldn’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise. I mean, if I had to place a bet I’d bet on him being bad. He was bad in 2015, which was the last time we saw him for something close to a full season. Even worse, he got a little worse at every aspect of the game, rather than just falling off in one area. It’s a lot easier to bounce-back in one category than in literally all of them, after all. Plus, he was bad when we saw him in 2016 and it’s not as if sitting out for most of the year is generally a good thing.
On the other hand, as I wrote about earlier in the offseason, we’ve seen these kind of comebacks before. Sandoval is still only going to be 30 in 2017, which puts him relatively far from the end of his career. A bounce-back season at this age would not be all that surprising. His good seasons in San Francisco are still fresh enough to have a tiny bit of confidence in a bounce-back, even if it’s not something worth betting on.
Photo by USA Today Sports Images