Sandoval batting .333 after 365 days in majors

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Pablo Sandoval has quickly become one of my favorite players, because he looks like a beer-league softball slugger, swings at absolutely everything from both sides of the plate, never seems to shut up, can often be spotted dancing in the dugout, runs like he’s chasing a piece of cake, and already has a pair of great nicknames in “Kung Fu Panda” and “Fat Ichiro.” Oh, and he’s also pretty damn good.
Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News writes that “one year ago today the Giants had themselves a bouncing new baby Panda” when they called up Sandoval “and life hasn’t been the same since.” He’s hit .333/.373/.533 with 20 homers and 67 total extra-base hits in 149 games through 365 days as a big leaguer, and the 23-year-old is trying to become the first player since Tony Gwynn in 1984 to win the NL batting title in his first full season.
Sandoval has amazingly done all that damage despite drawing a grand total of 26 non-intentional walks in 601 plate appearances. For comparison, Adrian Gonzalez and Carlos Pena have both drawn more than 26 walks in a single month this season. Sandoval has swung at 60.7 percent of all the pitches he’s seen in the majors, which is the highest rate in baseball. For comparison, Luis Castillo is at the other end of the hacking spectrum at just 30.5 percent.
Naturally he leads the world by swinging at 46.9 percent of all pitches outside the strike zone and has taken a cut at over 80 percent of pitches inside the strike zone. And perhaps the most amazing stat of all is that the 5-foot-11, 250-pound galoot has somehow managed to beat out 18 infield hits to rank among the top 20 in baseball ahead of speedsters like Chone Figgins, Willy Taveras, Jason Bartlett, Nyjer Morgan, Johnny Damon, Jimmy Rollins, and Alexei Ramirez.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.