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Atlanta Braves 2020 Player Reviews: Pablo Sandoval

A very late addition to the 2020 Braves who nonetheless appeared in the NLCS

League Championship - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Six Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After apparently tiring of most of their bench options (Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson, Adeiny Hechavarria) by the end of the season, the Braves signed Pablo Sandoval following his release from the Giants in early September, and brought him up for a brief stint at the end of the year. He ended up getting as many PAs in the regular season for the Braves (four, one game) as he did in the postseason (four, in three games, all in the NLCS).

What went right? In those eight PAs, Sandoval drew two walks and was hit by a pitch. Also, he appeared to have fun in the dugout — and after a contender scoops you up and puts you on the playoff roster when you put up -0.4 fWAR in 90 PAs with your prior team, why wouldn’t you be having fun? Also, he was one of only four Braves hitters with positive cWPA in the NLCS, making it so his overall season WPA and postseason WPA were positive with the Braves despite not really doing anything other than standing there.

What went wrong? Nothing, really. Sandoval was hitless in those eight PAs, but he still reached base three times. In the NLCS, he was hit by a pitch in the Braves’ win; he struck out twice in the Game 3 blowout loss, and really the only place where he could have contributed would have been Game 6, when he ended up making the final out in a two-run game.

Outlook for 2021: Sandoval will probably latch on somewhere on a minor league deal; his 2019 was decent enough that there’ll probably be roster room for him on at least one club. Still, 2019 remains his only season with an xwOBA above .304 in the Statcast era; his overall 2015-2020 xwOBA is right at .300. It’s kind of wild that this is the guy the Braves added to bolster their bench for October, but then again, pretty much everything about 2020 was wild.

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