Pablo Sandoval not only has baseball’s neatest nickname, Kung Fu Panda has a World Series MVP award to go along with it.
Sandoval took home the trophy following the San Francisco Giants’ sweep of Detroit, hitting .500 with 3 home runs, a double and 4 RBIs in 16 Series at-bats.
“I was ready for the moment,” he said after a 4-3 victory in 10 innings. “It’s just an amazing moment you’re never going to forget.”
Sandoval got the San Francisco Giants off to a powerful start by hitting 3 homers in the opener against the Tigers, becoming the 4th player to accomplish that feat in a World Series game.
He made his large league debut on Aug. 14, 2008, and earned his nickname just 4 weeks later. That Sept. 19 at Dodger Stadium, Sandoval scored from 2nd on Bengie Molina’s 1st-inning single off Greg Maddux, leaping sideways to avoid catcher Danny Ardoin’s lunging tag on the throw from center fielder Matt Kemp.
While Sandoval hit .330 in 2009 and came 2nd to Hanley Ramirez in the National League batting race, the Giants launched “Operation Panda” that offseason, telling him to dump the Big Macs, fries and milkshakes in favor of chicken breast on wheat bread, watermelon slices, bananas and oranges. He started lifting.
“I just want to keep that a secret,” he said 3 years back, trying to avoid an exact number.
By the point the 2010 World Series rolled around, when the Giants won their 1st title in 56 years, Sandoval was benched for 4 of 5 games following a slump. His weight had gone up again, and his batting average had gone down to .268. He made 13 errors and grounded into a league-high 26 double plays. Basketball lines
“I know it was a tough time in 2010 when he got relegated to the bench there,” manager Bruce Bochy expounded. “He really wanted to, I think, shine on stage. He is a great talent and we got him hot at the right time.”
Sandoval hit .369 this postseason with 5 doubles, 6 homers and 13 RBIs. Quite a turn-around from his .176 average with 2 RBIs 2 years back.
He has come a long way since then. He hired a personal chef. He ran up desert hills in Arizona in the offseason, causing him throw up continually. Sandoval’s average reflected back to .315, and he made his 1st All-Star team. Then at this summer’s showcase in Kansas City, he hit the 1st bases-loaded treble in All-Star history, a drive off Justin Verlander in a 5-run 1st inning that helped secure home-field advantage for the National League in the World Series.
After Sandoval went deep 3 times in the opener, matching the Series record shared by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, the Giants sold 760 more of their furry panda hats, including 466 at AT&T Park during Game Two. Venezuela President wrote on his social account, “Pablo going down in history!
“I still can’t believe that game. It’s the game of your dreams,” Sandoval expounded. “You do not really wish to wake up.”