How Pablo Sandoval’s Walk-Off Home Run Actually Screwed Over Giants

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Once upon a time, everything Pablo Sandoval touched turned to gold. The San Francisco Giants won three World Series titles between 2010 and 2014, with the man known throughout the Bay Area as “Kung Fu Panda” providing plenty of clutch heroics along the way.

Now, it’s a much different story.

Sandoval returned to the Giants earlier this season after being released by the Boston Red Sox, who signed the third baseman to a five-year, $90 million before the 2015 season only to watch him struggle for two-plus years. And it’s been a forgettable second stint with San Francisco, capped by a very costly walk-off home run Sunday in the Giants’ regular-season finale against the San Diego Padres.

Normally, when a player hits a walk-off homer, it’s cause for celebration. But on Sunday, Sandoval’s “clutch” blast actually cost the Giants the first overall pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft.

You see, the Giants entered Sunday — the final day of the MLB regular season — with baseball’s worst record at 63-98. The Detroit Tigers were right behind them at 64-97 and held the tiebreaker by virtue of their worse winning percentage in 2016 (.534; the Giants had a .537 winning percentage).

The Giants would have clinched the No. 1 pick in the draft with a loss or a Tigers win. Instead, the Giants won on Sandoval’s home run and the Tigers lost to the Minnesota Twins, giving Detroit the top selection next June.

Here’s the complete 2018 draft order, which is based on the reverse order of the 2017 regular-season standings. (2016 records are used to break ties.)

1. Tigers (64-98, .395)
2. Giants (64-98, .395)
3. Phillies (66-96, .407)
4. White Sox (67-95, .414)
5. Reds (68-94, .420)
6. Mets (70-92, .432)
7. Padres (71-91, .438)
8. Braves (72-90, .444)
9. Athletics (75-87, .463)
10. Pirates (75-87, .463)
11. Orioles (75-87, .463)
12. Blue Jays (76-86, .469)
13. Marlins (77-85, .475)
14. Mariners (78-84, .481)
15. Rangers (78-84, .481)
16. Rays (80-82, .494)
17. Angels (80-82, .494)
18. Royals (80-82, .494)
19. Cardinals (83-79, .512)
20. Twins (85-77, .525)
21. Brewers (86-76, .531)
22. Rockies (87-75, .537)
23. Yankees (91-71, .562)
24. Cubs (92-70, .568)
25. D-backs (93-69, .574)
26. Red Sox (93-69, .574)
27. Nationals (97-65, .599)
28. Astros (101-61, .623)
29. Indians (102-60, .630)
30. Dodgers (104-58, .642)

In case you were wondering, Sandoval hit .225 with five home runs, 20 RBIs and a .638 OPS in 171 plate appearances over 47 games with the Giants this season. Not ideal, especially when his rare contributions did more harm than good.

Thumbnail photo via Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports Images

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