Which type of plate discipline is eating Panda?

Papelbon's Poutine

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I think it's entirely irrational to think the Sox are going to eat the remainder of his contract and cut him this season or that they will spend resources to try to get someone to take on a chunk of it, when those will likely be far better spent shoring up holes on what they hope is a contender.

To each their own but the level to which a seemingly disturbing portion of the board is so eager to see this guy fail and be proven correct is disturbing.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I think it's entirely irrational to think the Sox are going to eat the remainder of his contract and cut him this season or that they will spend resources to try to get someone to take on a chunk of it, when those will likely be far better spent shoring up holes on what they hope is a contender.

To each their own but the level to which a seemingly disturbing portion of the board is so eager to see this guy fail and be proven correct is disturbing.
I don't think anyone is eager to see Sandoval fail however those of us who are familiar with his body of work (yeah, sorry) know that he has struggled with conditioning. You add in the scrutiny that he is under as a member of the Red Sox versus the relatively easy time he had in San Francisco and its easy to see this ending badly.

And to clarify, I don't see the Red Sox cutting him. However I think its entirely plausible that they will agree to pay a significant portion of the money owed to him to make him go away via a trade. You clearly disagree and that is fine. We have a market...

Anyhow, we need this thread title changed ASAP.
 

Tangled Up In Red

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Second, I think his lack of plate discipline is a perfectly reasonable answer as to why he was a bad hitter last year. The mystery to me is how the hell he could be a good hitter with such horrific plate discipline. What seems reasonable to me is that being a good hitter with the way he chases terrible pitches was not sustainable. My guess is that his hand-eye coordination has deteriorated from other-worldly to merely worldly. That doesn't seem fat related ... aging related seems like it could be factor along with new league adjustment.
This is a plausible theory (one I hope proves to be not true). He has been a strong hitter with terrible plate discipline. He has had Vlad like ability to square bad pitches. If that is gone... either he learns plate discipline or he's gone from baseball. I hope it isn't gone.
Range may be weight related, but reaction + hand/eye at the plate? Not buying it.
 

twibnotes

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Without a pre-negotiated weight clause in his contract, there isn't much a team can do. They can ask him to lose 20 lbs, but without any financial threat there, what good does that do? Now the only thing they can do is take away playing time, and it's not like there is a great option right behind him pushing him for that, so they don't have anything to threaten the guy with. Which is most likely why he came back in pretty much the same shape he left in.
Seems to me a "do you want to be here?" discussion could be helpful. If he says "no," you tell him he needs to slim down so they can find a taker. If "yes," then he needs to slim down or they'll shop him.

One way or another, Sox need to get creative; sources of leverage are hard to come by here.
 

ToeKneeArmAss

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This is a plausible theory (one I hope proves to be not true). He has been a strong hitter with terrible plate discipline. He has had Vlad like ability to square bad pitches. If that is gone... either he learns plate discipline or he's gone from baseball. I hope it isn't gone.
Range may be weight related, but reaction + hand/eye at the plate? Not buying it.
Inevitable "plate discipline" crack coming in 5 ... 4 ... 3 ...
 

Tyrone Biggums

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Fyi. Dead image that links to your gmail.



This weight talk is going to get old fast.
If he can hit then I'm not too concerned. On the other hand if I was making 100 million dollars over 5 years I think I would be able to buy things such as a treadmill or weights. Maybe he has a thyroid condition. Never know. But he looks almost as bad as Sabathia did at that age.
 

EdRalphRomero

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OTOH, Panda is not the first big ticket FA signing to come to the Red Sox and immediately have his hitting and fielding go in the shitter (cf. Carl Crawford; see also, Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo). His weight may very well be the cause, but it's also possible that his shit-stain of a year may be attributable to a few other causes, some of which may be remediable, without his losing 30 pounds.
Good points. There could be a lot of causes for his decline both offensively and defensively. However, losing weight is probably the only one that fits into the "objectively achievable" category (barring some bizarre medical condition). So when the eye test tells a subset of fans (myself included) that Sandoval can't seem to move quickly enough to get to a ground ball, or to turn properly because his belly is getting in the way, the resulting response is fairly predictable. Some will say that the Red Sox knew Pablo was fat and therefore the bad decision (considering the generally more rapid decline of overweight players) should have been apparent to them up front. I would agree with that, but further point out that Boston fans and the Boston media are well known for our behavior at this point. And, unlike Pablo's weight, no one person can change the dynamic. Why Sandoval, and his agent Gustavo Vasquez, wouldn't take this account is strange to me. Yes the Red Sox offered the most money. But it sounds like Sandoval knew that he was not going to lose weight and had already experience the adverse impact of that decision in San Francisco. What he will experience in Boston cannot in any way be compensated by the additional 2% in career earnings.

TL DR: The Red Sox should not be surprised that Sandoval has a significantly increased chance of precipitous decline. Panda should not be surprised that there are few places on Earth where it will be more miserable to be a poor performing fat ballplayer than Boston.
 
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Snodgrass'Muff

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This is a plausible theory (one I hope proves to be not true). He has been a strong hitter with terrible plate discipline. He has had Vlad like ability to square bad pitches. If that is gone... either he learns plate discipline or he's gone from baseball. I hope it isn't gone.
Range may be weight related, but reaction + hand/eye at the plate? Not buying it.
This was my biggest fear when he signed and this Fangraphs piece breaks it down specifically.



Last year Panda's out of zone contact rate dropped from 79.8% to 77.9%. Of course, his career average is 78.1% so it could just be normal variation. Either way, this graph is a bit frightening. That said, Fangraphs has a piece up recently about the possibility of a Sandoval bounce back and they make a pretty solid case for it.

That’s not to say there isn’t a good explanation, because there is a good explanation. In fact, I suspect you’ve heard it before assuming this isn’t your first FanGraphs article. It’s random variation. That’s not a very satisfying argument to make, though. Looking at his defense on a micro level and comparing it to his defense in 2014 might yield more specific issues from a scouting perspective, but on the whole, players have good seasons and they have bad ones.
Sure! But how? It’s another concept in which you may be well versed if you are a regular around here. It’s called regression to the mean. In a basic way, regression to the mean is the idea that any extreme number will move closer to the arithmetic mean upon a second test. In essence, it’s likely that more of the plays Sandoval will be asked to make next season will, for a variety of reasons, be made.
They took a look at the worst defenders from 2014 to see if they improved in 2015 and by a large margin, they did. So they conclude with this:

Sandoval has his age and his defensive history as an above-average player going for him, but mostly we can expect some improvement from him because it’s simply mathematically hard to be that bad again. So fortunately for the Red Sox, even if Sandoval isn’t as good as they wanted him to be, it’s likely he’s not as bad as he’s been. At least defensively. Let’s just agree to not talk about his hitting.
They're (or at least Matthew Kory) aren't optimistic about him at the plate in 2016, but I think there's actually some reason for optimism there as well. For one, if he just regresses to his career BABIP his 2015 numbers look very similar to his 2014, and that's a pretty good player. Even if he declines from that to be merely an average player, that's enough for the Sox to not have to worry about him in 2016, and to compete for a division title.

It's certainly possible he'll be terrible again, but there are reasons to believe he will be an acceptably productive player this season.
 

phenweigh

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I wonder if the z-contact% drops in part to how pitchers approach free swingers and how the free swingers react to the approach. Specifically, pitchers know Pablo will swing at pitches outside the zone, so their target is outside the zone. For a disciplined hitter, the target is in the zone, but towards the edge. Over time, Pablo gets frustrated that he doesn't get as many good pitches to hit compared to others. And instead of adjusting by adding discipline (which would be the effective way of adjusting) a free swinger just can't help himself and chases pitches further out of the zone. Pitchers adjust by moving their target even further off the plate. This would offer an explanation for the drop in hard hit ball % and BABIP besides random variation.

Anyway, the above is highly speculative pseudo psychology, but I guess it could be tested with Pitch f/x data. Are the pitches Palbo chases getting further outside the strike zone? Barring such a study, what does the eye-test say from people who watched him as a Giant? When I watched him chase some truely terrible pitches last season I was often left wondering if that was the Pablo norm or if he was getting worse.
 

geoduck no quahog

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Is there anything to be gleaned from Vlad Guerrero's trendlines (which are all good) - in that Sandoval, like Guerrero, is also a "see the ball / hit the ball" guy with a huge swing zone.

Just looking for something hopeful.
 

InsideTheParker

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I am slightly cheered by Lou Merloni's report on EEI that he watched Sandoval work out this morning and he looked good, at the plate and in the field. He says that Sandoval clearly does the work, which, in his opinion, Ramirez doesn't.
 

phenweigh

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Is there anything to be gleaned from Vlad Guerrero's trendlines (which are all good) - in that Sandoval, like Guerrero, is also a "see the ball / hit the ball" guy with a huge swing zone.

Just looking for something hopeful.
According to baseball-reference.com, Vlad is 6'3" and Pablo is 5'11", giving Vlad more ability to reach pitches off the plate.

I am slightly cheered by Lou Merloni's report on EEI that he watched Sandoval work out this morning and he looked good, at the plate and in the field. He says that Sandoval clearly does the work, which, in his opinion, Ramirez doesn't.
I heard the same from Steve Buckley a few weeks ago.
 

soxhop411

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“@JoeZWEEI: Red Sox chairman Tom Werner on with @GlennDOrdway @LouMerloni & @christianfauria… Were you disappointed when you saw Pablo? ”Yes I was.“”


“@JMastrodonato: Werner did not voice that opinion when he talked to reporters less than an hour ago and said he backed Dombrowski/Farrell’s comments.”
 

joe dokes

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I guess I'm old school, but I think I'll wait for him to suck again in actual games before I express my disappointment.
 

drbretto

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He's fat. He's always been fat. He's always gonna be fat. You are looking for something to blame his performance on. He's just someone who, when he's feeling good, he's awesome. When he's not, he sucks. This whole fan base constantly talking about his weight is never, ever going to help him. This isn't that hard to see, either. Just about everyone who saw him play in SF said the same thing. Some people are just plain like that. There's nothing you can do about it. Nothing at all. You're not going to fix him.

He'll either bounce back or not. There's no magic formula for this. You aren't going to predict it. You're not going to get anything out of looking at pictures of his gut. This is the worst part of this kind of fan base, which I am normally proud to be a part of, but this is ridiculous.
 

Pearl Wilson

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That Tomase story with Krukow voicing his opinion that Panda has an eating disorder - wouldn't you know that when I clicked on it to read the background for it was a big ol' ad for junk food (including some of my favorites).

That's messed up.
 

C4CRVT

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Tomase's like CHB with less talent. As for Pablo, SF fans strongly warned us about this last winter. Guess we'll have to see if he can avoid getting dinged up this year and be something other than a liability.
 

benhogan

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In the "Chat with the new GM, Mike Hazen" thread this winter, I asked these questions:


Congrats on the promotion Mike and thanks for joining us.

A few winter conditioning questions:

We've seen pictures of Hanley and he looks svelte. Any reports/pictures on Pablo and his conditioning? Sounds like it annoyed Pablo when the Giants front office put pressure on him to loose weight, are the Red Sox concerned about offending him?

Is Xander going to API with Pedroia this winter? who else from the Sox will be there?

One last question, what's Clay's health status?

Once again thanks...


While most had their questions answered by Mike, I can now see why I received no reply.
 

Sprowl

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Panda's post-hibernation belly makes Josh Fucking Beckett look svelte in the rearview mirror.
 

Moviegoer

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Fair enough. But if we are talking about reaching pitches off the plate, aren't we almost exclusively talking about the horizontal plane?
 

Sprowl

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Fair enough. But if we are talking about reaching pitches off the plate, aren't we almost exclusively talking about the horizontal plane?
Not necessarily. Some hitters reach for the outside pitch, especially offspeed stuff, but other have a weakness for the low splitter or the up-and-away fastball. Tendencies to chase rarely cover all three zones.

Panda may be the rare three-zone chaser.
 

Tyrone Biggums

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I'll still be in the minority here and say that the Hanley signing will probably work out for the Sox this year. He was excellent offensively before he hurt himself. Now you don't have the extra burden of being in the outfield on the pitching staff. When Chipper Jones was converted to the OF he ended up struggling too. It happens. He seems to have a different attitude this year by how he prepared (in good shape). On the other hand...Pablo looks like he prepared by hanging out at the Kowloon and ordering Crab Rangoon every night. If I had 100 million on the line my ass would be in the gym as much as it took.

But again he might have an eating disorder as well which hopefully has been looked into.
 

grimshaw

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Linebackers who can look a little beefy but have all kinds of muscle, basically have 17%-ish body fat on the high end. There's no way he's at that.

Henry should have just stopped talking after his comments about how Pablo's worked on his agility because that would fly a bit more.
 

Harry Hooper

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Good stuff on WEEI today. Fauria just measured in at something like 22% body fat, which depressed the hell out of him. On the optimistic front, Merloni said Pablo looks great at 3B in camp and should be OK in his current form. The concern for Lou is does he stay in his current shape or deteriorate over the course of the season.
 

YTF

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Here's where I'm at with Sandoval's weight. Let' suppose for one moment that it had absolutely no bearing on his past performance or injuries. Should we not be concerned that a player who signed a $95M contract will continue to show up to spring training another year older and still out of shape? At some point it will affect his play. We're not talking about a guy that might need to drop 5 or 10 lbs. before the season starts. There might not be a weight clause, but IMO he's got 95 million reasons to make an effort to report to spring training looking better than he does right now. This is year two, where will he be at in years three, four and five? I just checked the Red Sox roster and THEY have him listed at 5'11" 255 lbs.
 

geoduck no quahog

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Sorry to dispute all of the physiognomists here, but to my simple mind "in shape" reflects a couple of things:

- Strength
- Stamina
- Flexibility
- Health

The assumption that a fat guy (let's keep Sandoval out of it) can't be in shape judged solely on appearance is pretty narrow minded . Sure, extra weight slows you down and requires more energy. Extra weight probably reduces flexibility - but that can be measured. It shouldn't have any impact on reaction time or coordination or strength. I don't know because I don't claim to be expert in these things. Maybe someone on SoSH is.

Sure, given the choice of a fat Sandoval, a fat Sabathia, a fat Gwynn, etc...I'd take them skinny. But I'm not going to sit here and make all sorts of claims based on no empirical evidence. I understand his previous coaches complained about his weight gains. As others have said, the 2016 eye-test should at least be given a chance before we shit all over this guy - the guy who happens to be the starting 3B on a high potential team.
 

Kooler Than Bert

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At some point it will affect his play.
Why? I would understand concern if he put on a ton of weight that he had not had before but the fact of the matter is that he has been fat the entire time.

Aging is a different issue and all people decline. You insisting on his weight being cause is gratuitous.
 

NDame616

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I'm no expert, but.....

(and these comparison pix are everywhere on google, all with similar displays, so I didn't feel like posting a bunch and flooding the board...But let's just say he's probably closer to 40%.
 

shaggydog2000

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Certain bodyfat percentages look different on different people depending on how much muscle they have, what their underlying frame is like, where they carry their fat, and how old they are. But it's pretty hard to imagine the dude in the above pictures is 17% bodyfat. Or even under 25%. 35% is much more likely.
 

YTF

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Why? I would understand concern if he put on a ton of weight that he had not had before but the fact of the matter is that he has been fat the entire time.

Aging is a different issue and all people decline. You insisting on his weight being cause is gratuitous.
OK so back to the meat of the post that you quoted from...

Here's where I'm at with Sandoval's weight. Let' suppose for one moment that it had absolutely no bearing on his past performance or injuries. Should we not be concerned that a player who signed a $95M contract will continue to show up to spring training another year older and still out of shape?