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The Panda in Beantown: Pablo Sandoval in Boston?

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What would Pablo Sandoval look like in Boston? How does that affect his fantasy value? Read on to find out.

Will the Panda be helping fantasy owners from Boston next year?
Will the Panda be helping fantasy owners from Boston next year?
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Look, fellow Red Sox Nation members, I'm not trying to get you all excited. No, I don't have any inside information about any impending deal between Panda and the Sox. If you want to read about how close he might be signing with Boston, read this article here and this one over here. I'm just here to talk fantasy baseball and some fun speculation, but, as a Sox fan, I'm irrationally excited about him signing (we need a real 3B) and believe that he will sign with Boston any day now for something like 5 years, $95 million.

What would Pablo Sandoval do for fantasy owners in Boston? Well, first we look to park factors. Look at the table below and you will see that Pablo would be moving from an extreme pitcher's park to a hitter's park (numbers over one mean more than average offense). So that's good. By the way, here is where I got my park factors from.

What else? Well, we can look at his fly balls and see how many homers he would have hit out of Fenway, along with an increase in doubles. Alas, I know of no way to automate this process, so it has to be done one hit at a time. So, instead, I will just take a qualitative look at the park overlays, spray chart, and Pablo's fly ball and hard hit ball profile.


Source: FanGraphs

Park Comparison

Here's yet another chart showing Pablo's liners, flies, and homers from 2014 with the distance of each. Below that chart are two charts showing the angle from dead center (0 degrees) for Pablo's hard hit balls in 2014 from the left side of the plate and then from the right side.

Pablo Sandoval Batted Ball Angles as LHH
Pablo Sandoval Batted Ball Angles as RHH

Finally, from the baseballheatmaps.com distance leaderboard, we find out he had 41 balls in play that were hard enough to register on the leaderboard as hard hit balls and his overall average distance was 275 feet with an angle of -0.15. This shows that he sprays the ball all over the field and uses his switch-hitting to use the entire field. He clearly bats from the left side much more often than the right (since there are more righty pitchers than lefties) and this is shown in the number of points on the left side chart versus the right side chart below it.

Now, we can combine all of this information and say that Pablo should definitely see a boost in Fenway. His 41 hard hit balls last year won't all be homers, but looking at the balls he hit out this year, it is clear he likes to pull to left and right field (he's a switch hitter, remember) and the left field wall in Fenway is a lot closer than in San Fran. Right field is about a wash, since Fenway's is a little deeper, but AT&T has a higher wall and has a deep pocket in right center. I expect a modest increase in home runs due to the better home park (I'd add about two homers for that) but he would also be playing in the AL East with the hitter's paradises of Camden Yards, Rogers Centre, and Yankee Stadium (when he bats lefty). Taken together, I'd give him 22 homers for the year playing in the AL East.

I expect the triples to drop from three to zero. A big guy like him will have a hard time hitting triples in Fenway or most of the other AL East parks. On the other side, those doubles should come in bunches off the Green Monstah. I count about 25 hard hit outs from 2014 that would probably have been doubles in Fenway, using an entirely subjective method. Since he will only play half his games there, I'd add 12-15 doubles to his total of 26 from this year. This would bring him back near his 2009 peak of 44 doubles. More doubles means a higher slugging (even without those three triples), a higher average and OBP, and more runs and RBI, most likely.

I think the Sox lineup will be much improved in 2014 with a healthy Dustin Pedroia, a developing Xander Bogaerts, and future stars Rusney Castillo and Mookie Betts helping Mike Napoli and David Ortiz. Being in the AL, with this lineup, Pablo's runs and RBI should increase noticeably. This leads me to the final tally and the big question you have all been waiting for: what will his 2015 line look like in Boston?

Here you go, patient reader:

Feel free to disagree with my thoughts, it's just one man's opinion about another man's baseball performance in a hypothetical situation that may or may not happen. As always, Tschus!