Jonathan Sanchez: What do you think?

Posted By on January 20, 2009 8:41 pm

I can’t figure out what the deal is with Giants fans and Jonathan Sanchez. Even though his numbers don’t seem to indicate much, it seems like every Giants fan I run into still loves the guy. Am I just running into the wrong people, or is that how you feel about the guy?

Over his first 250 innings in the majors — not a small sample size — he has a 5.18 ERA, and he’s walked 4.5 batters per nine innings. The only time he’s pitched consistently well is a 14-game stretch early last year, and even then he was still walking guys (41 in 87 innings).

But maybe I’m missing something. I looked up to see how common it was for a pitcher to have a WHIP over 1.5 in his first three seasons, and then still have a good career. This list is full of mostly nobodies, with the exception of Roy Halladay, Jason Schmidt, Kelvim Escobar and Ryan Dempster. (Even among that group, Halladay is the only one with no “but…” attached to his career.)

Then there are Sanchez’s minor league numbers. He walked only 3.5 hitters per nine, while striking out 11.9. If he could get to that level in the majors, he’d certainly see some better results. I tend to believe those numbers are more indicative of the fact that minor league hitters are more aggressive than major league hitters, as opposed to Sanchez somehow having had better control back then.

But I want to know what you think. What type of major league pitcher do you think Jonathan Sanchez will become?

Comments

21 Responses to “Jonathan Sanchez: What do you think?”

  1. Mark says:

    Randy Johnson is my reason. The Big Unit in his age 25 season (1989) pitched 160.67 Innings with 147 Hits, 96 BBs, 13 HRs, and 130 SOs for a 1.51 WHIP, 4.04 FIP, and 4.82 ERA. Jonathan Sanchez in his age 25 season (2008) pitched 158 Innings with 154 Hits, 75 BBs, 14 HRs, and 157 SOs for a 1.45 WHIP, 3.85 FIP, and 5.01 ERA.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=60amp;position=P#standard

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7507amp;position=P

    I think this is what makes other teams want Jonathan Sanchez so much. Having Randy here can only help Jonathan find his control as Johnson did.

    It would be big mistake in my judgement for the Giants to trade Sanchez now when his trade value is only likely to get better as he continues to mature. Right now Jonathan Sanchez is simply likely to be more valuable to the Giants then any player they can get for him in a trade.

  2. Jeff Fletcher says:

    So you chose to pick a future Hall of Famer with similar stats and ignore all these guys?

  3. Mark says:

    Actually the simularity to Randy Johnson doesn’t impress me nearly as much as the 3.85 FIP in 2008. Only Tim Lincecum’s 2.62 and Sergio Romo’s 3.31 were better on last year’s Giants pitching staff. Matt Cain’s 3.91 was close but not as good as Sanchez’s 3.85.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/winss.aspx?team=Giantsamp;pos=allamp;stats=pitamp;qual=0amp;type=1amp;season=2008amp;month=0

    Could you be paying to much attention to ERA?

  4. BHF says:

    Sanchez has just completed his first full year and you’re ready to throw in the towel. I think fans are willing to be a little patient and see if he works out. If not then bring on the next guy.

  5. Jeff Fletcher says:

    Mark, I’m actually basing my cynicism about Sanchez more on his walks, particularly the fact that he kept walking guys even when he was getting good results. That makes me think the 14-start hot streak might have been more luck than anything he had improved. I’m just throwing it out there for debate, to see what you guys think.

  6. Jeff Fletcher says:

    Mark, here’s something in Sanchez’s favor from your sacred FanGraphs. His first-pitch strike percentage (59.1) was higher than Cain, Lincecum and Wilson.

  7. Jeff Fletcher says:

    Of course, that really makes me wonder how he managed to walk so many guys.

  8. Mark says:

    I do agree that he comes without any guarantees. It is just that his upside in my opinion is too much to sell now for the more expensive in dollars, fewer years of team control, and lower upside talent that is being offered for him.

  9. someguynamedg says:

    They dude misses bats and while he has had mixed success it is still very rare. Try not to put too much weight on his first season as a starter. Honestly who else has promise? Misch? The studs are at least a year away. Hold your horses for one more run.

  10. Ty says:

    I think Giants fans love him so much because of his potential to be a great pitcher. His strikeout numbers are ridiculous for a lefty, and everybody is thinking, “If he can just have a little more control, think of how good he will be!” Unfortunately for every amazing start, he has two horrible ones. But the one amazing start is what keeps my hopes up that he can harness his talents and become a legitimate major league pitcher. Whether or not that will ever happen, I have no idea; but it gives me something to look forward too.

  11. West Coast Bias says:

    Jeff, I love your stuff. My thing with Sanchez is, not that he’s great or I think he’s going to be great but, that I don’t beleive there is a great deal of value right now. If they trade Sanchez now, what’s the best they could get? Jorge Cantu? Maybe a slightly above-average player who can’t field. If Sanchez pitches all of 2009 and goes, for example, 13-13 with a 4.50 ERA (reasonable numbers I think), his value after 2009 could be more than it is right now. Pitchers that are innings-eaters with respectable contracts, like Snachez, command a lot in trade because if they hit the open market. Randy Wolf could get $5-6 million/year and he has a good K rate like Sanchez. But he has an injury history. My point is that Sanchez, if he stays healthy this year, even with average results, should be worth more after 2009 than he is right now.

  12. Mr. N.O. says:

    He had a great start to last season, then struggled at the end. I think that this can easily be overcome with more experience pitching a major league schedule. That being said, I am not attached to Sanchez. I think the Giants should wait to see how Noah Lowry recovers and then assess who is better Lowry or Sanchez. Then if you can get some value in a trade for either one then “pull the trigger.”

  13. otis says:

    He’s better than his ERA, but his mechanics go to hell when he gets tired. I think he’ll be very good if either he manages to overcome that or the Giants just work with it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    If his first-pitch strike percentage is good, but he still walks a lot of batters, it sounds like he has trouble spotting his secondary/breaking pitches. This is something most young pitchers struggle with.

  15. Dave says:

    Jeff, Sanchez is rough around the edges with control and his walks, and he needs to build up his stamina, as I think he faded last year with the mounting innings that may have not been used to throwing. But I do like his first pitch effectiveness, and his one strikeout per inning threat. With a little more coaching, I think he could be more effective than Lowry. Is Righetti really a good pitching coach?? He has been around a long time, but i am not sure if that is because of his knowledge…

  16. Anonymous says:

    Sanchez is worth holding onto because when he’s right, he’s nasty – he misses bats. The upside on this guy is huge, and if he could maintain that 14 game streak from mid last year over a full season, we’d have an unbelievable staff. If Sanchez can be dominant as our # 3 or # 4 starter – it’s worth holding onto him. Steve Avery wasn’t great on the Braves because of his stuff, he was great on the Braves b/c he was their # 4. It’s worth the risk, because we’re not going to get a good bat for him (like Uggla) so why not roll the dice. Even as he is now, he’s a competent # 4/5. BA

  17. Jeremy says:

    It was mentioned above, but his being shuffled around from the rotation to the bullpen skews his stats. His minor league stats (FIP, K/9, K/BB)as a starter are very impressive, and as he continues to build his stamina he should continue to improve. BR/BR/Doubt he becomes Roy Halladay, but a very good #3 is a strong possibility.

  18. Alex says:

    Hi Jeff, I think you’re missing a major point here…prior to his first 14 starts of last season, he was being moved around from the bullpen to starting from the minors to the big leagues etc. Last year was his first FULL season as a big league starter, and you’re not considering that he might have just been worn out at the end of the season?

    His first half of the season last year is the reason fans (including myself) are excited…how many of the players on that list started out as relief pitchers?

  19. obsessivegiantscompulsive says:

    Yes, you’ve been running into the wrong people. :^)

    Pitchers who can strike out over 1 per inning is very rare. Hence why Sandy Koufax was kept around though he walked a lot of batters too. Hence why Eric Threets was kept around though he walked a lot of batters too, for that matter.

    A study I have seen by Derek Carty, showed that pitchers how can strikeout at least double his walks, even if he walks a lot, was more effective than pitchers who can strikeout out at least double, but don’t strike out as much. Strikeouts are that important/powerful.

    The key thing to remember about Sanchez is that he’s only 26 for next season, still young, still developing. He had a 3.97 ERA up to the All-Star break, which is very good, but then was horrible the rest of the season. That suggests that he tired out by mid-season, most probably because he did not throw that many innings in 2006 and 2007 while relieving for the team. Ideally, he should have been starting in AA and AAA those seasons, but the Giants needed him in the bullpen those seasons.

    So 2009 is the prove it year for Sanchez as a starter, and given the evidence above, if he can prove it, he would be a very valuable player, whether in trade or in our rotation.

    In addition, BP research showed that one of the factors that are tied to a team’s success in the playoffs (i.e. going deep) is the pitching staff’s K/9 rate. Obviously, keeping a high K/9 pitching like Sanchez, once he developed, would help your team with getting their K/9 rate high.

  20. [...] it out, if they are going to. You may recall I did a post before last season in which I said I never thought he’d amount to more than a back-end starter, and I stand by that, a no-hitter [...]

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