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Sandoval: When Bad Plate Discipline Goes Bad

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Remember last season, when you would put your hands on your hips and give that disapproving smile as you shook your head and exclaimed, "Oh, Panda!" Sandoval had just stopped a slider from bouncing and singled with a swing that looked like a golfer hitting out of a sand trap. Or he had tomahawked a pitch up around his eyes one hop off the wall for a double.

Now he just looks silly, flailing at balls in the dirt and waving at pitches up around his eyes. Sandoval is providing living proof that Vlad Guerrero is a rare beast -- a bad ball hitter who can thrive without any semblance of plate discipline. Those guys come around about once every Sanguillen and unfortunately their imposters outnumber them by a factor of about 10 to 1.

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In a way, Sandoval is too good a hitter -- or talent, anyway -- not to bounce back, but in a way he is also such a fundamentally flawed batter that you wonder if he peaked as a rookie. All I know is that these days he often looks comically (or tragically) bad and he is quite easy to pitch to. And on a Giants team sorely lacking in offensive firepower, it's a bit unsettling to see one of their youngest sluggers stalling so badly with a line that has reached .267/.321/.389 and is moving in the wrong direction (.234/.305/.340 in June, .216/.231/.216 so far in July). More worrisome than the numbers, though, is the process -- Sandoval just does not look like a very good hitter this season.

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Baseball is a game of adjustments; let's hope Sandoval has what it takes to adjust because what has worked before simply won't work now.

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