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.
Kyle Schwarber made a quicker-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery and then, after an Arizona Fall League rehab assignment, was shuttled up to Cleveland for the World Series. But that’s not all he has done.
Schwarber is now the latest ever Best Shape of His Life All-Star. Or so says Kris Bryant, talking to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We’ve seen first-hand the work that he’s putting in and how hard he’s been going . . . Honestly, I saw him out — maybe a couple weeks after his surgery — and he’s moving around, walking. And I’m like: ‘Dang, this guy’s not human. How? I saw your leg bend in half, and you’re walking around. This is unbelievable . . .(It’s) watching him dripping with sweat every single day. Every single day, this guy is drenched. I feel like he’s in the best shape of his life (now). There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it. It was just a matter of if they let him.”
May as well just forfeit now, Indians. No way you can deal with an October BSOHL guy.
Every offseason we keep track of the Best Shape of His Life guys, but we usually forget about them once the season starts. At best we chuckle a few months later when the player struggles and then blames it on having too much muscle or not enough body weight or something. The BSHOL cliche and the assumptions inherent in it are all basically silliness anyway so it’s not like it lends itself to intense scrutiny.
Sometimes, though, a BSOHL guy actually improves and, occasionally, that’s worth mentioning. One BSHOL guy who looks good so far this year is Aaron Sanchez of the Blue Jays. Who, in January, talked about bulking himself up and adding 25 pounds to help forestall the sort of breakdown he lad last year in the form of a lat injury which ended up shifting him to the bullpen. As one of our most senior commenters, ProudlyCanadian notes in the ATH comments, back in the rotation now, Sanchez has done pretty darn well in the early going. Over 20 innings he has allowed only three runs and has struck out 20.
Maybe that extra size and strength is doing him wonders. Maybe, like last year, it’s just the case that he’s a strong starter. I dunno. Here’s hoping that in his case, and in the other BSOHL cases, improved performance follows improved bodies and mindset.