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Skinny Panda?

By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network.com) - A movie quote is usually a good place to start, right?

This comes from the Judd Apatow film "Funny People":

JONAH HILL: You shouldn't have lost all that weight, man. There's nothing funny about a physically fit man.

SETH ROGEN: I know. It's lame, right?

JONAH HILL: Yeah. No one wants to watch Lance Armstrong do comedy.

Pablo Sandoval must not be doing this for the laughs.

When spring training rolls around in a few weeks, everyone's favorite festively plump third baseman will be 42 pounds lighter than when we last saw him.

You don't get the nickname Kung Fu Panda for being skinny. Over the last few seasons, Sandoval has been listed anywhere between 240 and 275 pounds. Though he could be as light as 198 pounds right now, I suspect Sandoval is probably on the heavier end of that spectrum (220 to 230 range).

Panda probably won't be on Comedy Central anytime soon but he could be getting a big pay day in the near future. Sandoval's three-year deal expires at the end of this season. With third base as shallow as ever, a bounce-back season could earn Sandoval a hefty raise.

As it turns out, this isn't the first time Sandoval has dabbled with weight loss. Though he eventually gained it all back, the Giants third baseman slimmed down considerably before the 2011 season. His 5.9 wins above replacement that season were a career-high.

Improving your physique, whether it's by dieting or going to Zumba classes at the Y on Tuesday nights, is generally thought of as a good thing in our society. But in the baseball world, a little extra girth isn't necessarily a deal breaker.

Relief pitchers Jonathan Broxton and Bobby Jenks have both been to All-Star games while weighing in at close to 300 pounds. CC Sabathia, a future Hall of Famer, has weighed OVER 300 at certain points in his career. By that same token, 5-foot-11 Prince Fielder has never been listed below 275 pounds, yet he's been to five of the last seven All-Star games.

Heck, Babe Ruth binge-ate hot dogs and smoked cigars. He's probably the greatest player of all-time.

Seriously, why spend all offseason trying to get Channing Tatum abs when you can look like Big Papi and still win World Series MVP?

For decades, overweight players have succeeded in the major leagues. In fact, sometimes losing weight can actually yield negative results.

Just ask Sandoval's Giants teammate, Tim Lincecum. The four-time All-Star struggled mightily during the 2012 season (10-15, career-worst 5.18 ERA). Some thought it may have had something to do with his diet.

Lincecum arrived to spring training at 175 pounds, down 22 from the year before when all he ate were In-N-Out burgers. Lincecum backed off that diet and had a much better season in 2013 (tenth in the league in strikeouts).

Josh Hamilton is another player who lost weight only to watch his fantasy value crumble. Prior to the 2013 season, Hamilton trimmed down to 225 pounds and had arguably the worst season of his career (career lows in batting average and OPS). Now he's back to his usual playing weight of 245.

A few fantasy owners panicked when Mike Trout showed up to camp 15 pounds heavier in 2013. They shouldn't have. All Trout did was finish second in American League MVP voting while setting new career-highs in RBI and OPS. Even with a little extra meat on him, Trout still finished eighth in steals (33).

Joe Mauer gained a whopping 30 pounds after the 2011 campaign and it didn't slow him down one bit. His batting average went up by 32 points while his OPS skyrocketed to .862, a 134-point improvement from the year before.

It almost makes you wonder ... is heavier better?

Not always. Miguel Cabrera cut twenty pounds off his playing weight before the 2012 season. It ended up being his best one yet (.330, 44 HR, 139 RBI in 161 games).

R.A. Dickey is also a believer in "less is more." The knuckle-baller lost a substantial amount of weight during an offseason trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2012. The weight loss may have contributed to his Cy Young award the following season.

So who knows? Maybe skinny Panda will have the last laugh.

01/18 18:00:07 ET


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