DETROIT -- The MVP – Most Valuable Panda – sat in the interview room and smiled.

A trophy, another World Series ring and the best nickname in baseball all were his.

Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, was voted World Series MVP following the San Francisco Giants' sweep of Detroit. He hit .500 with three home runs, a double and four RBIs in 16 Series at-bats.

"I was ready for the moment," he said after a 4-3 victory in 10 innings Sunday night. "It's just an incredible moment you're never going to forget."

This Panda works with maple, not bamboo.

Sandoval got the Giants off to a powerful start by hitting three homers in the opener against the Tigers, becoming the fourth player to accomplish that feat in a World Series game.

He made his big league debut on Aug. 14, 2008, and earned his nickname just a month later. That Sept. 19 at Dodger Stadium, Sandoval scored from second on Bengie Molina's first-inning single off Greg Maddux, leaping sideways to avoid catcher Danny Ardoin's lunging tag on the throw from center fielder Matt Kemp.

Maddux and Dodgers manager Joe Torre argued Sandoval ran out of the baseline. Barry Zito, on the mound for the Giants that night, coined the nickname for Sandoval's oversized personality and roly-poly shape – the animated film "Kung Fu Panda" had been released in theaters that June.

"The Panda has special powers," Zito said in the middle of champagne spray in the Giants' crowded clubhouse. "I watched that movie and thought, he's a guy that if you see him, you may not think he's so athletic, and then all of sudden, you're like, wow! This guy is one of the better players in baseball."

And the jovial Sandoval loved the moniker.

"It's me. The character is me," he said. "Have fun, like a little kid, fight for everything, never lose faith. It's important when you have teammates thinking that way, you are that guy."

While Sandoval hit .330 in 2009 and finished second to Hanley Ramirez in the NL batting race, the Giants launched "Operation Panda" that offseason, telling him to ditch the Big Macs, fries and milkshakes in favor of chicken breast on wheat bread, watermelon slices, bananas and oranges. He started lifting.

Sandoval's weight is listed at 240 on the Giants' website, 235 on the players' site. At one point, he had been up to at least 272.

"I just want to keep that a secret," he said three years ago, trying to avoid an exact number.

By the time the 2010 World Series rolled around, when the Giants won their first title in 56 years, Sandoval was benched for four of five games following a slump. His weight had gone up again, and his batting average had gone down to .268. He made 13 errors and grounded into a league-high 26 double plays.

"I know it was a tough time in 2010 when he got relegated to the bench there," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He really wanted to, I think, shine on stage. He's a great talent and we got him hot at the right time."

Sandoval hit .369 this postseason with five doubles, six homers and 13 RBIs. Quite a turnaround from his .176 average with two RBIs two years ago.

He has come a long way since then. He hired a personal chef. He ran up desert hills in Arizona during the offseason, causing him to throw up regularly. Sandoval's average rebounded to .315, and he made his first All-Star team. Then at this summer's showcase in Kansas City, he hit the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star history, a drive off Justin Verlander in a five-run first inning that helped secure home-field advantage for the NL in the World Series.

After Sandoval went deep three times in the opener, matching the Series record shared by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols, the Giants sold 760 more of their furry panda hats, including 466 at AT&T Park during Game 2. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez tweeted, "Pablo going down in history! Long live Venezuela!!"

"I still can't believe that game. It's the game of your dreams," Sandoval said. "You don't want to wake up."

___

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

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  • San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence reacts as he runs home to score a run during the second inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • The San Francisco Giants celebrate with Buster Posey after he hit a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro is caught in a rundown with Detroit Tigers' Octavio Dotel (20) during the eighth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Octavio Dotel tags out San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro as Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval gets grounded out into a double play during the eighth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Detroit Tigers' Octavio Dotel reacts after striking out San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the eighth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro is caught in a rundown with Detroit Tigers' Octavio Dotel (20) during the eighth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer walks to the dugout after being removed from the game during the seventh inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain (18) gets out of the way as Pablo Sandoval fields a bunt by Detroit Tigers' Quintin Berry during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • Detroit Tigers' Austin Jackson loses his bat during the seventh inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Detroit Tigers' Drew Smyly throws during the seventh inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • San Francisco Giants right fielder Gregor Blanco hits a single during the seventh inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Detroit Tigers designated hitter Delmon Young, right, celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Detroit Tigers' Delmon Young runs after hitting a solo home run against San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Detroit Tigers designated hitter Delmon Young hits a solo home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Detroit Tigers' Delmon Young hits a home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey is congratulated by third base coach Tim Flannery after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer walks to the dugout during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey reacts after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey celebrates in the dugout after hitting two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • San Francisco Giants' Jeremy Affeldt throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey celebrates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey hits a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey reacts in front of Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey hits a home run during the sixth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Detroit Tigers left fielder Quintin Berry reacts as he grounds out during the fifth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Detroit Tigers left fielder Quintin Berry reacts as he grounds out during the fifth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Detroit Tigers' Quintin Berry reacts after being thrown out by San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford at first during the fifth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford makes a play on a ball hit by Detroit Tigers' Quintin Berry during the fifth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • Detroit Tigers' Gerald Laird reacts after a pop bunt out during the fifth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Detroit Tigers' Omar Infante hits a broken-bat single during the fifth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Detroit Tigers' Jhonny Peralta flips his bat after striking out during the fourth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer, left, adjust his cap after a meeting with catcher Gerald Laird during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, left, celebrates with Delmon Young after hitting a two-run home run during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera hits a two-run home run during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence can't come up with a two-run home run hit by Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • **ALTERNATE CROP**Fans try to catch a two-run home run hit by Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (9) gets caught stealing second base as Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera tags him out during the fourth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Fans wait for the start of Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers as the sun sets Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Fans ride a carrousel at Comerica Park before Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Detroit Tigers' Jhonny Peralta tags out San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt as he is caught stealing second during the fourth inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney watches Game 4 of baseball's World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera hits a two-run home run during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera hits a two run home run during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval hits a single during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

  • San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) beats the tag at first base as Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder reaches for the ball during the third inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

  • Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer throws to San Francisco Giants' Marco Scutaro during the first inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • Hunter Pence

    San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, left, celebrates after scoring a run during the second inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

  • San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence, right, scores on a hit by Brandon Belt during the second inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence reacts as he runs home to score a run during the second inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya )

  • San Francisco Giants' Brandon Belt hits an RBI double during the second inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the Detroit Tigers Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder reacts after striking out during the first inning of Game 4 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)