Neyer: Why Pablo Sandoval’s 3 home runs were more impressive than you know

From SABR member Rob Neyer at Baseball Nation on October 25, 2012:

There are two ways to think about Pablo Sandoval’s three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series.

One way is to think of them in the context of Pablo Sandoval’s greatness, both generally and as a power hitter.

Before we explore that notion, a bit of historical context is probably in order. Just in case you missed it. Before Wednesday night, a player had hit three home runs in one World Series game only four times.

In Game 4 of the 1926 World Series, Ruth hit three homers against the Cardinals.

Almost exactly two years later — again in Game 4, and again against the Cardinals — Ruth did it again.

In Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Reggie Jackson hit three home runs against the Dodgers.

In Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, Albert Pujols hit three home runs against the Rangers.*

* Yes, the timing’s been odd. Two years between three-homer games, then 51 years, then 34 years, then … one year. At this rate, it’s either going to take another half-century … or Delmon Young will hit three home runs in Game 2.

Does Pablo Sandoval thus take his place alongside The Babe, Mr. October, and Prince Albert among the game’s all-time greatest hitters? Hardly. Sandoval’s obviously been an outstanding hitter when he’s been healthy. But he’s not exactly a superstar, except maybe in San Francisco and points south. Sandoval’s performance in Game 1 doesn’t tell us that he’s a premier power hitter like Ruth and Jackson and Pujols.

Really, it’s more interesting than that. Assuming that you equate interesting with surprising. Because what those other names really tell us is just how surprising Sandoval’s Game 1 really was.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: October 25, 2012. Last Updated: October 25, 2012.