Pablo Sandoval is one of my favorite players because he has a body like David Wells, runs like Kung Fu Panda, and hits .330 despite swinging at everything, which is why I’m sort of sad to read that he’s planning to spend the offseason doing “fitness and nutritional training designed to teach him how to keep his weight down”:
At 22, he is putting up terrific numbers despite his weight, which is more than his listed 246 pounds. The team is concerned he will break down unless he learns to eat properly and stay trimmer.
Sandoval acknowledges he does not eat well, particularly on the road, and he understands why he must surrender three weeks of his winter vacation for this training. “I do want to get better,” Sandoval said. “I want to get in good shape and get ready for next season. I don’t want to get hurt. I don’t want to play 120 games. I want to play 162 games.”
On one hand not being in great shape would probably cost Sandoval any chance of sticking at third base long term and dropping a few pounds likely won’t hurt his hitting. On the other hand if he’s going to be a first baseman anyway the extra weight isn’t a huge factor defensively and toting around a nice gut doesn’t seem to hurt guys like Prince Fielder, Adam Dunn, David Ortiz, Carlos Lee, Kyle Blanks, Billy Butler, and Ryan Howard.
A thin Pablo Sandoval might be five percent more valuable, but he’d be about 50 percent less interesting.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.