Pablo Sandoval, known more for his nicknames than for his previous playoff performance, was voted the 2012 World Series MVP after his San Francisco Giants finished off their sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Sunday night.
Sandoval, affectionately dubbed "Kung Fu Panda" by the Giants faithful when he burst onto the scene in 2008, contributed very little to San Francisco's title run two years ago, batting just .176 in limited action.
That offseason, the third baseman shed most of the weight that assisted in the subpar performance and led to some calling him "Fat Ichiro," as per the acclaimed wesbite, baseball-reference.com.
"You learn from the things that happen in your career. You get up and down. You never give up," Sandoval said after Game 4. "All the things that happened in my career, thank God it happened early rather than late in my career."
Sandoval returned to his All-Star form in 2011 by hitting .315 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI. The Giants failed to return to the postseason, but Sandoval regained the trust he lost from manager Bruce Bochy and stayed the course in 2012, leading the club to an NL West title.
After Marco Scutaro and the pitching staff helped the Giants stave off six elimination games to capture the pennant, Sandoval took center stage with an otherworldly performance in Game 1 of the World Series.
The 26-year-old homered in his first three at-bats, including two round- trippers off Tigers ace Justin Verlander to join Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to leave the yard three times in a World Series contest.
He wound up hitting .500 (8-for-16) against the Tigers and his 24 postseason hits were one shy of the MLB record.
For his efforts, he was unanimously voted the MVP of the Fall Classic and became the first-ever Venezuelan-born player to accomplish the feat.
"I learned from my mistakes," Sandoval admitted. "When you learn, you see all the results, you look more mature and you put all the pieces together."
Maybe now, Sandoval will lose the nicknames and instead be remembered for his hitting prowess.