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  1. I’m good with signing any Panda that can leg out a triple.

    (plus I think this signing is a bargain)

    Comment by Oliver — January 18, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  2. Panda’s UZR:

    3.4, -3.4, 0.3, 12.3

    So, if we weight the performances, regress them and all that biz … doesn’t he come out as an average defender or even slightly above?

    For a full season, if his fielding is horrible (say, 10 runs below average), he still projects at between four and five wins. Even if you think he is a terrible defender and can only play three-fourths of a season, he would still between a three and four win player.

    What evidence would there be for him putting up a -10 fielding run season?

    Panda’s had 2 5.5 WAR seasons out of 3 full seasons (if 117g in 2011 counts as a full season). His 1.8 WAR season came via a .291 BABIP season.

    If we (FG community) believes in our metrics (even regressed to league average), and adheres to the accepted projection methods, then the Giants are paying Panda to be a about a 1.5 WAR player.

    Why guarantee basically the same money he would have received in the future by going year-to-year?

    That’s the real question. Panda would have been a really good value without the 3y deal and having 3 years of arb instead.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 18, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

  3. Pablo skipped his annual trip to his home country of Venezuela to participate again in the same conditioning program in Arizona as last offseason in which he lost about 40 lbs. Of course the Wilson Ramos kidnapping may have had something to do with that decision too. He also got Lasik surgery for his troublesome eyes.

    The wrist did not appear to give him any trouble at all after his return from surgery.

    I don’t think a BA of .330 with 40 HR’s is out of the question.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — January 18, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

  4. Oh, and he’s sought out Barry Bonds for hitting advice. I noticed that he was choking up on the bat slightly after coming back from surgery like Barry used to. I don’t know if Pablo’s choking up was to protect the wrist or if he was following Barry’s advice. I don’t know why more hitters don’t choke up a 1/2-1 inch or so.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — January 18, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

  5. i totally believe Pablo is capable of 40 HRs. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. I think they don’t watch Pablo hit everyday

    Comment by pbjsandwich — January 18, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  6. i also think he’s fully capable of putting up a consistent 10+ UZR

    Comment by pbjsandwich — January 18, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  7. pretty sure that was a pre- world series photo

    Comment by oldjacket — January 18, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

  8. I think the injury concerns are overstated here. Pablo broke his hamate bone, which accounts for the vast majority of his missed time in 2011. He cannot break said hamate bone again, as it was removed during his surgery. Furthermore, he seemed to display few effects from the surgery, which is variously reported as sapping a player’s power for anywhere from six months to two years, and Sandoval still managed to exceed his career numbers for ISO. If there is anything on his medical records to hand-wring about, it was his shoulder injury at the tail end of the season which left him unable to swing from the right side, effectively limiting him to platoon-only status. This is a much bigger concern as if it became a re-occuring issue it could slash his value by perhaps 40% (I am making the assumption here that he is a better LHH than RHH).

    That said, I do like the deal for the Giants, and hope that the modest number for 2014 is a placeholder for a second extension that would buy out years of free agency. He is a young player with great upside and talent to give him a fringe Hall of Fame-type trajectory if he can demonstrate longevity and consistency going forward. A good deal for both sides.

    Comment by Solidarity — January 18, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  9. It’s possible that he was choking up to keep the knob of the bat from putting pressure on his wrist, which is probably what caused the hamate fracture in the first place. I also know that he was playing through some pain in his early days back with the team.

    Comment by Solidarity — January 18, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

  10. There’s some adjustments to be made because arbitration players aren’t paid FA money anyway. So unless we’re looking at a situation of, say, Ryan Zimmerman vs. Sandoval in the coming years, we expect there to be some savings. Still, if Pablo continues to be a five-win player, the team is saving roughly 50% over what might be considered “market value” for players in their arb years.

    Comment by Solidarity — January 18, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

  11. Guaranteed Panda would be a great name for a rock band.

    Comment by futurecfo — January 18, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

  12. agree – the people who critique Pablo’s defense are just forming conclusions based on his body. They havnt looked at the data or watched his on field performance.

    as Billy Beane would say… “were not selling jeans…”

    Comment by Jason — January 18, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  13. Some batters use the foam ring just above the knob for the same reason, less pressure/shock.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 18, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  14. Okay, but in his best seasons he’s been in the 23-25 HR range with 14-16% HR/FB.

    For him to hit 40 HR, he’s going to either have to [1] hit many more fly balls, or [2] experience a fluke-ish type uptick in his HR/FB%.

    It’s possible, but not projectable. In other words, if he hits 40 HR, it’ll be more of a fluke/luck type thing rather than some type of “breakout season” (like Mauer’s 2009).

    I am intrigued by the effect LASIK might have, but that would more likely improve contact rates rather than results on flyballs that would be most affected by strength increases (i.e., bat speed) and/or changes in swing path.

    Given that Panda is a .320+ BABIP guy due to very good LD%, I’m doubtful they want him to change his swing path to trade line drives for fly balls.

    I think SFG will be very happy with simply Panda being Panda, a good line drive hitter with some power and average defense. Given today’s state of 3B’s, that would be an elite 3B.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 18, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  15. Shoulder issue coupled with the possibility that he’ll regress to his old nonconditioning habits? The Giants are in the best position to assess his heart, but I wouldn’t have done it. A 60% chance the Giants ‘win’ the contract slightly, against a 40% chance it blows up sky-high on them.

    Comment by Richie — January 18, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  16. I know we’re being a little sarcastic, but if that 12.3 UZR was the result of him being much lighter (more agile, quicker) that might be possible.

    Granted that’s an IF, but certainly possible.

    If so, over a 600 AB season, he’d be in the 6-7 WAR range rather than 5 WAR.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 18, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  17. I agree with Circle. Panda is at his best when crushing line drives, he’s a doubles machine that has plenty of power. I’ll take more of the 09 and 11 seasons every year and be delighted with the Giants best homegrown position player since…

    Comment by kellin — January 18, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  18. As a Giants fan that got to see plenty of the Panda in each of the last two years, he was totally different in the field last year. Bias is surely in play for me, but I thought he was more than capable at the hot corner last year and a disaster in the field in 2010. In 2010 there were also strange injury issues with his hips and legs that disappeared last year.

    Comment by kellin — January 18, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  19. death metal band.

    Comment by Jim — January 18, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  20. Perhaps it is a good sign (for those who want him on their fake baseball teams) that the Giants did this contract. If they weren’t convinced he is healed, why offer to buy out anything??

    Comment by jimbo — January 18, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  21. This looks like a really good deal for San Fran to me.

    Comment by Bip — January 18, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  22. He might hit 40 HR at Arlington, but not at AT&T.

    Comment by channelclemente — January 18, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  23. the point of positing Panda as a -10 fielding run season was to pick a number the author felt comfortable represented a worst case scenario, and then showing that even in that worst case scenario, he’s pretty good.

    As he says: (Just for the record — I think Sandoval is probably better than that, I am just giving the “worst case” scenario to illustrate a point quickly.)

    I think he was trying to avoid any controversy over defensive metrics, specifically as they relate to Panda, and still show he has value.

    Comment by dxclancy — January 18, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  24. I believe that when the giant who holds up the earth dies, we are screwed.

    Comment by JDanger — January 18, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  25. He had to pass a physical before signing the extension, so it’s not like he’s going to show up to camp with a dead arm and a beer gut. Maybe his conditioning slips down the road, but people forget that his prior issues were not a product of laziness, but of having never been introduced to a real weight training program before. He understands what he has to do to stay on the field, and he has to stay on the field if he wants to hit. He’ll be fine.

    Comment by Solidarity — January 18, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  26. 40 HR seems like a big stretch for the Panda, even on a fluke year. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if a 30+ HR season is in the future for him, maybe not often or consistently, but I could see a year or two he goes deep 30+.

    Comment by Scott — January 18, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  27. Yes, but the point of the OP was that this -10 FRA estimation was absolutely ludicrous and unfounded based either on statistical metrics or on scouting consensus. By the same token, you might as well say that a worst case scenario is that Sandoval hits .240/.280/.380 next year.

    I find the complete inattention to demonstrated reality re: Sandoval’s defense really tiresome. I don’t mean this as a direct criticism of the author here — this assumption that Sandoval can’t defend is a much more epidemic instance of writer misinformation. But in this particular case, when the premise is so unfounded, it renders the entire article pretty much irrelevant.

    I might add as well, since I’m clearly on my high horse (for which I do sincerely apologize), that the author also presents very misleading information about Sandoval’s injuries in 2011. The broken hamate bone and subsequent surgery which caused Sandoval to miss a quarter of the season and the “nagging injury” that prevented Sandoval from batting right-handed were two manifestations of the same thing — not two separate issues. And while the injury was and remains a concern, Sandoval bounced back with great success, and much more quickly than others who previously sustained the injury. Other players who have had this problem in the past have sometimes taken a full year to regain their power, while Sandoval came back almost without missing a beat.

    Comment by Graham — January 19, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  28. Nice balanced article, good job! yes,it is not an exact science, and that is the definition of a fair deal.

    I think that this is a great deal for the Giants, with minimal risk. All he needs to do is provide one year like he did in 2009 or 2011 and he more than paid off the contract in terms of WAR and $/WAR metrics. That’s once in three seasons, with two 0 WAR seasons.

    That said, I think he repeat that multiple times, if not improve on it. His poor season in 2010 was related to his added girth, but few mention that he was going through a lot of personal issues that season, which I think helped him add on the pounds (eating more is common way to deal with problems). In addition, from the publicly known instances of when he had to deal with intense issues (final divorce signing; mother’s near-death situation), his hitting sucked for a week or two as a result before rebounding to Panda-esque batting lines. Also, few think to mention that he wasn’t in the best of shape in any case in 2009 and still hit like that, his size was never that good before 2011, but good enough.

    His better physique in 2011 appears to have benefited his defense the most, though he did improve his ISO as noted above. According to the Fielding Bible’s DRS stats, he led all 3B by a wide margin in 2011, 22 runs saved vs. #2 Adrian Beltre 17 runs saved, and he didn’t even play a full season. So his defensive value in 2011 alone was worth more than half of the contract value he just signed for 3 seasons. And if he could produce that over a full season, fully cover the contract on his defense for one season alone.

    And as noted above, he forgoed participating in Venezuela in order to work on his conditioning and get into better shape for 2012. His fitness trainer said that it is an ongoing process, last year was about getting into shape, now they are focusing on improving upon that, year by year. So worries about his fitness is not warranted.

    However, the concern over injuries is warranted. He had a number of physical ailments in 2009 too, I recall one forcing the Giants to move him to 1B, and that there were other instances. Still, he played in 153 games in 2009 and hit well, so the injuries concern, while valid, is probably a non-factor, at least for the next three seasons, when he’s age 25-27. It is probably a bigger concern when his next contract is signed, and especially so once he’s over 30.

    Using the 40%/60%/80% arb rule, his salary by year escalated from $8M to $10.3M, which means that his contract valued his production at roughly 2 WAR per season, or that of the average player. As the author noted, he’s been so far above 2 WAR, that there is a huge margin for error built into the contract from the Giants side.

    All in all, taking the view from a number of different perspectives and valuation methods, the signing of Sandoval by the Giants appear to be a good deal for both sides. He is guaranteed a huge sum of money that he should be able to retire on if he should unfortunately need to. The Giants, however, save a lot on what they potentially would have to pay him if he continues to hit like he did in 2009 and 2011, he could get arb awards in the $10M+ range for the 2013 season (60% of $15-20M free agent value) and more in 2014. And they are covered as long as he’s a semblance of what he was like in 2009 or 2011, once in the next three seasons.

    I would not be surprised if he gets an extension into his free agent years after the 2012 season, or 2013 at latest.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — January 19, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  29. While I’m hesitant to say 40 HR too, especially in this developing era of less power (and less bouncy balls), I don’t think that it is too far fetched either.

    First, while as noted, he only had 23 HR in 2011, he also only played 117 games. If he got the roughly 570 AB he got in 2009-10, he would have hit 31 HR in 2011, at the rate he was hitting them (18.5 AB/HR).

    Second, per the 25 HR comment above, he actually started 2009 unsure of how to hit for HR power in the majors, he was pretty lightweight, like he was in his 2008 callup, until June. He hit 22 of his homers the rest of the season, which worked out to a 18.3 AB/HR ratio.

    Third, as noted above, he had his hamate bone removed during the season. That normally sapped a players power for a year or two before it returned. I posit that his power is actually much better than had been shown, so that once he does fully recover from his hamate bone surgery, there could be another jump in power.

    Fourth, he’s only 25 YO for 2012, so he hasn’t even reached his prime years yet, where more power should kick in at some point in any case. Plus, as has been noted, he is building up his body to be more in baseball shape, that should help his power at some point.

    Fifth, speaking to that youth, as noted above, he’s been working on being more selective in his swings. If he makes any progress in that regard, in forcing pitchers to throw more pitches in his wheelhouse, that should also give a boost to his HR power.

    Thus, while I would not bet on Sandoval reaching 40 HR, I would not dismiss that thought either, as I detailed above, he’s already at 30 HR season power already, and there are various reasons to think that more power could come to him as he gets older, more developed.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — January 19, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  30. I should note here that the $3.2M estimate is based on Sandoval’s production in 2011, which was reduced because he didn’t play a full season. The methodology for the estimate is that arbitration is based significantly on the counting stats, like RBI and such, and thus that figure is reduced because he didn’t play a full season. Adjusted for a full season, I estimated that the adjusted arb number would have been $4.7M.

    So the supposition that the contract is essentially the same as what he would have gotten in arbitration is off because of this nuance of the methodology, he would have gotten more had he played the full season at that rate of production. I would say that he’s being underpaid anywhere from $5-10M ($1.5M difference in first arb year, $4.5M if same each year, but escalating it would yield $8.4M)

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — January 19, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  31. I just checked his 2011 season. He started the season 16.6 AB/HR, which is a slight improvement (that’s roughly 34 HR season per 570 AB).

    Then he was injured and DLed, and upon his return, his power was sapped, he didn’t hit for much HR power in June (1 in 67 AB).

    Then he finished the season (Aug-Sept) at a 16.2 AB/HR pace.

    So, when he wasn’t battling back from his surgery (June), he was hitting at a roughly 35 HR pace the rest of the season.

    That’s within spitting distance of a 40 HR season, would not take much of a fluke for him to up his production from mid-30’s to 40.

    Thus, I change my stance, he’s probably going to have what some consider to be a breakout year in 2012 (jumping from mid-20 to mid-30 HRs in a season), but as I showed in the above, he’s actually been doing it, when not injured and recovering from surgery. He’ll just be putting it all together in one season.

    Kind of like Jeff Kent when the Giants got him. The numbers he produced for the Giants in terms of HR power was not much different from what he did before, it was just that he wasn’t a regular before that. His peak years in HR/AB was 23.6 before the Giants, and he was roughly at 20 HR/AB for the Giants. And he peaked at 37 HR, when he averaged roughly 30 for the Giants otherwise, so Pablo going from 35 to 40 isn’t that far-fetched.

    Comment by obsessivegiantscompulsive — January 19, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

  32. I thought the title was a play on South Park’s “Sexual Harrassment Panda”

    Comment by dxclancy — January 19, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  33. People are overlooking the non-financial factors….such as goodwill/good faith. This signing I think shows the Giant’s desire and willingness to take care of their home grown players That should please the fan base and of course be noted by Cain, Lincecum and their agents. Won’t necessarily tip the scales for Cain and Lincecum, but won’t hurt either.

    Comment by Sabean Wannabe — January 19, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  34. 40 homers might be ambitious but anyone who has seen him hit can see his hand-eye coordination is on-par with the likes of vlad guerrero and the upper echelon badball hitters

    his hands are so quick

    Comment by will — January 20, 2012 @ 12:09 am

  35. 40 homers might be ambitious but anyone who has seen him hit can see his hand-eye coordination is on-par with the likes of vlad guerrero and the upper echelon badball hitters

    Upper Eschelon Bad ball Hitters? I wanna see that top 10 list. Let’s just call them what they are, undisciplined batters with high contact rates. They both dream of having David Eckstein’s hand-eye coordination and contact rates. In other words, hand-eye coordination is not all that important for HR hitting outside of the obvious.

    There’s a reason there are many of the same names on the all-time HR list AND the all-time K list.

    Also, being a bad ball hitter is going to work against him because he’s going to put many BIP that he cannot drive for a long distance. He’s no Vlad Guerrero in regards to being able to drive a low/away pitch over the CF bleachers … and even Vlad doesn’t do it a ton. Both guys are going to make contact too often on pitches they shouldn’t be trying to make contact with. Vlad gets himself out A LOT, despite the “bad ball highlights” here and there.

    Mark Reynolds, 44 HR, almost 50% Fly ball rate. C-path swing, incredible bat speed. Contact rates, well … not so good. Heh Heh.

    Panda would need to change his swing path to create a more optimal launch angle for sending balls over the fence more often. My guess is that he already has the batted ball velocity (using his BABIP as evidence … I take it he’s not accomplishing that with IF hits).

    his hands are so quick

    … and Olympic sprinters are fast runners. Of course his hands are quick. Grin.

    Hitting the ball a long way is the result of 2 things: [1] Batted ball velocity (strength, bat speed), and [2] launch angle (swing path).

    Panda’s not a fly ball hitter and he shouldn’t strive to be. Whatever quality one wants to speak of in regards to Panda being able to hit home runs, Justin Upton has more of it. JU10’s career best is 31 HR.

    Of course, increasing your HR output by 150-170% can be done, we’ve all seen seasons like Brady Anderson and Davey Johnson, but it’s not as simple as it sounds.

    Edgar Martinez never hit 40 HR. Not because he didn’t hit the ball hard enough, but because he was not a “fly ball hitter”, same deal with Panda.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 20, 2012 @ 1:27 am

  36. Counterpoint: Mark DeRosa passed a physical for them.

    Comment by Matt — January 20, 2012 @ 11:34 am

  37. i understand the use of specifics for Panda’s fielding in order to make an argument, but the whole idea of Panda being a “bad” fielder doesn’t sit with me. What are you basing this on?

    Bill James’ Handbook has Panda as the #1 defensive 3B in baseball, having saved 22 runs in 106 games.

    #2 on the list is Adrian Beltre at 17/112 games; Ryan Zim is a 0/97 games.

    I call shenanigans, sir.

    Comment by cdi — February 15, 2012 @ 7:20 pm

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