As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!
If you’ve been visiting us over the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that the phrase “best shape of his life” has become a meme of sorts. Every winter, there are scores of reports that players — particularly ones coming off of down years — are in the “best shape” of their life. Pablo Sandoval and Kyle Schwarber are recent examples of players being hyped in this respect.
Add Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams to the list. While the exact phrase “best shape of his life” was not used, Brian Stull of WGNU 920AM in St. Louis reports that Adams lost 25 pounds during the offseason. Adams says his swing is “even stronger” and is excited for the 2017 season.
With spring training just over a month away, the 28-year-old Adams is slated to back up Matt Carpenter at first base. It would make sense if the Cardinals pursued trading Adams before the start of the regular season.
Adams finished the 2016 season hitting .249/.309/.471 with 16 home runs and 54 RBI in 327 plate appearances. He missed time during the season with back, shoulder, and wrist injuries.
For a guy who won a World Series MVP Award and has been to a couple of All-Star Games, it’s amazing how many stories have been written about Pablo Sandoval‘s off-the-field exploits compared to his on-the-field exploits. Specifically, stories about his conditioning. Or lack of conditioning. Of him getting into shape, falling out of shape and getting back into shape again. It’s been this way since he emerged as an everyday player in 2009.
And it continues anew:
There is no claim here that Sandoval is, in fact, in The Best Shape of His Life. However, longtime BSOHL fans know that the claim is not about the magic words being used. The idea is that, in the offseason, players with something to prove will routinely make an effort to create the impression that they are a new man. Often it is from claiming that one is in The Best Shape of His Life. Often it comes from surrogates talking about how many pounds of fat one has lost or pounds of pure muscle one has added. Sometimes — as here — it comes in the form of showing post-workout photos.
Whatever the purpose of the photo, Sandoval is certainly looking good compared to where he was last spring:
Or at the end of the 2015 season:
Even if this is part of a plan to get Sandoval some good press heading into the 2017 season, I’m happy to see that he appears to be recovered from shoulder surgery and appears to be taking good care of himself and is thinking about his baseball futrue.
Either way, expect the Panda Weight Watch to continue at Red Sox spring training come February.