This isn’t to suggest that Sandoval was remotely comparable to Gwynn or David Ortiz.

Elite Bobby Portis Jersey I don’t know when that picture was taken, and I don’t care. Tony Gwynn used to have the lithe body of a college basketball player, and then he didn’t. At no point did he stop hitting baseballs hard. He was a marvel, an absolute marvel, and nobody cared what he looked like.

I’m not sure if there’s a great example in recent Red Sox history of a hitter who might have been a little round above the belt but still performed at an All-Star level until he was 40. If I think of one, I’ll let you know.

Just that the argument Hitters need to have abs of steel to hit is patently false. If you didn’t like Sandoval’s chances to succeed, you would have to offer up reasons other than not muscly, because hitters need to have muscles until they don’t. If your argument is that Sandoval was specifically ill-equipped to carry that much extra weight — I would listen to the evidence for that argument! — that’s one thing. But the blanket statement doesn’t teach us anything.

Sandoval wasn’t coming off his strongest season in 2014; that much I’ll concede. But he still had a 111 OPS+ and 16 homers in one of the most extreme pitcher’s parks in history. His above-average defense (I watched it, it was real, I promise!) made him a three-win player that year, and he was just 27. That’s a player who shouldn’t scare a team away from a five-year deal.
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Or for an example that actually happened, look at the Royals in 2014. It was disappointing for their fans when they lost in the World Series, sure, but it was clearly a net positive for them to claw their way back from the abyss, stun the world just to get past the Wild Card Game and mow through the rest of the American League.

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