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This pioneer of today’s big-boned MLBer has LIT UP pitchers this Spring Training. No matter how much stock you put into Spring Training stats, he’s batting like the Sandoval of yesteryear that became a National sensation & World Series MVP.
Panda’s leading the Braves Spring Training batting title right now with a .429 batting average, with a .978 OPS to boot. Oh yeah, he also has as many RBI (4) this Spring Training as he has his entire Spring Training career. Both marks career Spring Training highs (average: .304, OPS: 843).
Panda also plays all the right positions to make this team. Freddie will most likely need more days off this season than he has for any season prior, just due to the usual 162 after a 60-game season plus postseason.
And then the elephant in the room, third base. I have no doubt that Austin Riley can play Gold Glove defense & become one of the most feared hitters in Atlanta’s lineup, but he’s not right & I don’t know how long Anthopoulos will wait. Third base is the weakest spot on the field; he’s not a weak spot per say, he’s just the weakest of the bunch.
I fully expect the Braves to be buyers, possibly even buyers that make a splash come trade deadline time or sooner. What will they buy? As the roster sits right now, barring injury; relief pitching and/or a third baseman.
If Riley still doesn’t progress into his potential this year, he could find himself in a platoon; in comes Pablo.
The Bartolo Colón of position players, Panda is a joy to watch play baseball. I’m excited for Panda hustle-doubles & moonshot homeruns. Because I don’t see how Sandoval is left off this roster.