Aside from Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval may be the most important hitter in the Red Sox’ lineup. Hitting behind Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Ramirez, Sandoval will have many opportunities to drive in runs, especially as the season goes on.
The third baseman is hitting .285 with 15 RBI, but it could be even better.
Sandoval is a switch-hitter and he’s hitting just .059 (2-for-34) from the right side, compared to .371 from the left side. This certainly raises the question, should Sandoval abandon switch hitting and hit exclusively from the left side?
Daniel Nava, although not close to Sandoval’s level production-wise, has done it this season, which proves it isn’t uncommon. Sandoval has struggled for the last two years from the right side, as he hit .199 from the right side last year, so dating back to the beginning of the 2014 season, Sandoval is batting just .177 on that side of the plate.
This is bringing down his total average, as on top of hitting .371 from the left side this year, he hit .317 from the left side last year, and for his career he’s a .306 hitter from the left side, while slugging .495. From the right side for his career he’s a .262 hitter, slugging .378.
"It's a work in progress,'' John Farrell told reporters earlier in the year of Sandoval hitting from the right side. "He's working at it a lot with Chili (Davis) and Vic (Rodriguez), specifics that he's trying to take from BP into a game. The tough thing to understand is that two years ago, he hit .299 as a right-handed hitter. So it's in there. We've got to unlock it to make him more consistent.''
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It could also improve his situational hitting, including with runners in scoring position. Often times teams bring in left-handed relievers for Sandoval, forcing him to switch over to the right side.
With runners in scoring position this year, Sandoval is hitting .200. From the seventh inning on, the third baseman is hitting just .212, this compared to hitting .333 in the middle innings.
Farrell isn’t going to pinch-hit a right-handed hitter for Sandoval, he’s too good of a hitter for that, but at least for the time being what harm would be done if Sandoval decided to be an exclusively left-handed hitter?
As the Red Sox look to turn things around following their recent slump, the offense is a major part of it, especially their performance with runners in scoring position. Right now Sandoval’s .059 average from the right side is holding them back.
Sandoval is 28-years-old and has been in the majors for seven seasons, he knows what works and what doesn’t work. It’s time for him and the coaches to think long and hard about being a switch-hitter because the Red Sox desperately need his production.