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Pablo Sandoval

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Pablo Emilio Sandoval
(Kung Fu Panda, Round Mound of Pound)

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[edit] Biographical information

Pablo Sandoval is a professional baseball player currently with the San Francisco Giants.

Sandoval was signed by scout Ciro Villalobos as an undrafted free agent in May 2003. He began his professional career in 2004 as a catcher with the AZL Giants, hitting .266 with no home runs and 26 RBI in 177 at-bats. In 2005 with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, he moved to third base, hitting .330 with three home runs and 50 RBI. The following year, as a 19-year-old in the South Atlantic League, his batting average slumped to .265. Playing for the Augusta GreenJackets that year, Sandoval had one home run and 49 RBI while splitting time defensively between first and third base. Still, in 2007, Sandoval rose to play high-A ball for the San Jose Giants of the California League. At San Jose, Sandoval hit .287 with 11 homers and 52 RBI as a 20-year-old, while his defensive movements continued, as he returned to catching and first base.

In 2008, Sanchez made his great leap forward. Beginning the year by hitting .359 with 12 home runs and 59 RBI at San Jose, Sanchez was moved up to the AA Connecticut Defenders. At the age of 21 at AA, Sanchez found still more success, hitting .337 with eight homers and 37 RBI. On August 13th, with combined totals of .350 with 20 home runs and 96 RBI, Pablo Sanchez was called up to San Francisco and made his major league debut the next day. Although he went hitless in three at-bats in his debut game against the Houston Astros, he then started a torrid streak that saw him collect 8 hits in his next 13 at-bats, to give him an even .500 batting average in his first week of major league action.

In 2012, Pablo started the season with at least one hit in the Giants' first 20 games, breaking the franchise record set by Hall of Famer Willie Mays. He was the hero of Game 1 of the 2012 World Series against the Detroit Tigers on October 24th; he hit a solo homer off Justin Verlander in the 1st inning, then followed that with a two-run blast off Verlander in the 3rd. In the 5th, he took Al Alburquerque deep, then added a single off Jose Valverde in the 7th. The three homers tied a record set previously by Babe Ruth (twice, in 1926 and 1928), Reggie Jackson (in 1977) and Albert Pujols (in 2011), while his 13 total bases were one shy of Pujols' all-time record. He was only the second batter to have a three-homer game at AT&T Park, the first one having come on April 11, 2000, courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers' Kevin Elster in the first game ever played in the ballpark. Thanks to Pablo's bat, the Giants won the game handily, 8-3, on their way to sweeping the Series in four games. Sandoval was named the Series MVP, having hit .500 over the four games in addition to his three homers.

Sandoval had a repeat performance of his World Series heroics in the 2012/2013 Venezuelan League finals. Playing for Navegantes del Magallanes, he was named MVP of his team's defeat of Cardenales de Lara in seven games, hitting .300 with 3 homers and 9 RBI; in the decisive 7th game, he hit a pair of doubles and a key two-run homer to lead the Navegantes to the 2013 Caribbean Series. After receiving that MVP honor, he stated that his goal was to achieve a unique Triple Crown: winning the World Series, the Venezuelan League championship and the World Baseball Classic in succession, having just been named to the Venezuelan national team for the 2013 tournament. However, Venezuela had a very disappointing tournament, though Pablo did well (4 for 13, 2 2B, HR, BB, R, 4 RBI), leading the team in RBI and finishing second to Martin Prado in OPS. The home run came off Spain's Eric González and a two-run double off Kelvin Herrera of the Dominican Republic.

The 2013 season was a difficult one both for the Giants and for Sandoval. The team played very poorly after a decent start, quickly falling out of contention while their historic rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, were surging and Sandoval's bat seemed to have gone to sleep. He had only 10 homers on the year when he broke out for a rare power outburst on September 4th, with a three-homer game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park, leading the Giants to a 13-5 win. It was the first time he had hit three homers in a regular season game. He hit .278/.341/.417 in 141 games, but was often taken out of games in the late innings in favor a defensive substitute - usually Joaquin Arias -, his physical condition having deteriorated quite a bit as a result of a failure to control his weight. He took the criticisms to heart the following off-season and showed up in spring training in 2014 noticeably trimmer, having shed some 30 pounds. He hit .279 in a career-high 157 games that season, the lower weight helping him to stay healthy. He hit 26 doubles and 16 homers, scoring 68 runs and driving in 73 as the Giants returned to the postseason. He was again excellent during those money games, getting a couple of hits and scoring a couple of runs in the Wild Card Game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and going 8 for 20 with 3 doubles in eliminating the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. In fact he extended his remarkable streak of reaching base in every postseason game to 25 before going 0-for-4 in a 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals in Game 3 of the World Series.

On November 25, 2014, he signed a five-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.

Sandoval's brother, Michael Sandoval, played in the Minnesota Twins chain from 1998 to 2004 and in 2009 played for the Newark Bears.

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