After his first year in Boston failed to meet many expectations, Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval will channel his switch-hitting ability more frequently in 2016 in an effort to increase his offensive production.
Sandoval, who has lost around twenty pounds this offseason, would join a projected Boston lineup that contains just one other switch-hitter — catcher Blake Swihart — if he can smoothly make the transition to batting regularly from either side of the plate.
The primarily left-handed Sandoval struggled so extensively in 2015 when hitting from the right side of the plate that he dropped the practice all together for the remainder of the season. Rebuilding his switch-hitting effectiveness won’t be an easy task for the 29-year-old, especially since his offensive production was even weak from his dominant side a year ago.
During the worst statistical season in his career of nearly eight seasons, one in which the renowned slugger slashed just .245/.292/.366, Sandoval had only two hits in 41 at-bats as a right-hander, a negative complement to the .269 he batted while in the left-handed batter’s box.
Whether his efforts to become a more productive switch-hitter are successful or unsuccessful, it’s very unlikely that this year’s offensive production can be worse than it was last year. He notably struggled when facing left-handed pitchers while batting left-handed, so it isn’t too shocking that he is giving the switch-hitting thing another try. His career statistics point to a continuation of his struggles against southpaws, but his heavy offseason work may cause a resurgence in his numbers.
One thing that can be stated with certainty is that Sandoval still needs to prove that he was worthy of the five-year, $95 million contract Boston extended to him in November of 2014. One year into the deal, Sandoval has done just the opposite.