Having ballooned to approximately 280 pounds, Sandoval was benched for the World Series, save for a Game 3 start in Texas as San Francisco's designated hitter.This across-the-board dropoff drove Sandoval to reestablish himself. He lost approximately 40 pounds last offseason, which improved his range defensively, quickened his swing and boosted his confidence overall. "When you're working hard in the offseason, everything's going to pay off," Sandoval said. Said Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, "Watching him get back to who he is and who he wants to be is a lot of fun for all of us." Sandoval's fun began when he built a 22-game hitting streak that ended July 15 in San Diego. His streak was the fourth-longest by a Venezuela-born Major Leaguer, trailing Melvin Mora's 23-gamer for Baltimore in 1995, Chico Carrasquel's 24-game streak for the Chicago White Sox in 1950 and Victor Martinez's 25 in a row for Boston in 2009. Sandoval's previous best was a 10-game streak last season. Sandoval earned his first career Player of the Week honors during the period of Sept. 12-18, hitting .440 (11-for-25) with a double, two triples and four home runs. In the middle of this stretch, Sandoval hit for the cycle Sept. 15 at Colorado, becoming the 10th Giant to do so since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958. Though Sandoval tried to exercise more patience at the plate, he remains a naturally impetuous hitter who's eager to swing.
"[Opponents] can pitch him outside the [strike] zone because of that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "But he has the remarkable ability to keep his hands back and hit pitches. You don't want to take it all away from him. That's part of his thing. The reason he's had so much success is, he is aggressive. He just has to control it."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.