More Jonathan Sanchez

Posted By on January 23, 2009 12:30 pm

We had a nice long discussion about Jonathan Sanchez on here a few days ago, with many of his supporters enamored with his high strikeout totals and his detractors (well, me) still looking at his high walk totals.

That prompted one of my readers to point me to an interesting study by Derek Carty at The Hardball Times. You can read it here, but essentially Carty says that strikeouts do more good than walks do harm. In other words, a pitcher who strikes out 10 and walks five per nine innings is likely to be more successful than one who strikes out two and walks one, even though their ratios are the same.

While I think that Mr. 10/5 is still going to have trouble getting deep into games because his pitch count will be much higher than Mr. 2/1, I’m willing to concede that there is something to the suggest Mr. 10/5 can still pitch more effectively for as long as he lasts.


8 Responses to “More Jonathan Sanchez”

  1. Mike says:

    Jeff, The Hardball Times is a great site full of top notch work. Keep in mind that Derek Carty is their fantasy expert. While his analysis uses real data, he does it with the goal of improving his fantasy picks. Maybe that translates well to the real game, but maybe not.

  2. Derek Carty says:

    Thanks, Jeff.

    I think it’s worth noting that, while Sanchez won’t be able to work as deep into games as other pitchers, it will be because of his walks, not his strikeouts. This study shows that a high strikeout rate has absolutely no bearing on this sort of thing, so he might be able to last longer than you think.

    It’s also worth noting that Sanchez’s 2008 profiles similarly to Lincecum’s 2007. His BB/9 was 4.27 and Lincecum’s was 4.00. If Sanchez can get it anywhere below 4.00 like Lincecum did, he would be fine to work deeper into games.

    Just some food for thought.

  3. Derek Carty says:

    Absolutely right, Mike. All of my stuff is done with the primary goal being fantasy baseball. In this instance, though, fantasy and real baseball mix. My concern is ERA, as is yours :)

  4. Dave says:

    Jeff, this is good stuff. I agree with Derek that if Sanchez can control his walks per game, it will obviously help him last longer per start. While it is nice to have a complete game, it is not mandatory in the days of “specialized relievers” in the 8th and 9th innings. That is why the Giants needed to upgrade their bullpen, as they could not hold that slim 2 to 1 lead, with no offensive support in sight. Another deterrent to the CG is the dreaded “pitch count”, that the Giants used with Lincecum, and I am sure they will use with Sanchez.

  5. obsessivegiantscompulsive says:

    The question was about Sanchez’s potential, as I saw the issue, not how long he lasts into a game.

    It’s true that he probably won’t last as long into a game because of his high walk total, but he should be more effective in preventing runs, which was the point of Carty’s study (and which he notes in his comment to Mike) and which is what should be most important in desiring one pitcher over another.

    Interesting note about parallels between Lincecum and Sanchez. Lincecum made his leap in 2008 (or really mini-leap, if you look at his stats after his last poor game in late May 2007, his ERA then portends the great season he had in 2008) reportedly with the help of his newly developed changeup.

    I don’t know if that is a common thing for pitchers in general, but that appears to be a common link of successful Giants pitchers of recent years, Schmidt had a good one, Lowry had a good one, and now Lincecum has a good one.

    What I liked about Sanchez was that he had a number of dominating starts, as defined by the PQS (pure quality starts) stat developed by Ron Shandler’s Baseball Forecaster group of analysts. The methodology is explained here

    Starting around late May, he had a 10 game stretch where he had 6 5-PQS starts plus 2 4-PQS starts, which is a great ratio if you can keep that up for a whole season (pitchers above 50% for a season are the best, those above 70% the elite; Lincecum was at 79% for 2008 by my calculations). Still, with such a dominating stretch, it hints at what he could do if he could only be more consistent in whatever it is he needs to do to be successful as a starter.

    Hence my suggestion that he should be given every opportunity to show what he can do as a starter.

    And really, that is the best course the Giants should take for 2009 if they truly want to win, Sanchez is poised to take the next step, with a big jackpot for the Giants going forward if he succeeds, whereas, as much as I like Lowry, I don’t see him being capable of lasting the whole 2009 season healthy if he were to start 32 games for us.

    I think Lowry’s better role would be as the long reliever initially, with Bochy giving the quick hook to any starter struggling so that Lowry gets more innings, and be the backup choice if Randy Johnson’s 45 year old body gives out on him (as it did as recently as 2007).

    The Giants could also then be more liberal in skipping the rotation spot for any starter who is struggling and give Lowry a spot start here and there.
    The Giants could also try to implement a partial 6 man rotation, say, after the All-Star Break, because August always seem to have some brutal stretches of games where there is no break because rained out games get made up that month, it seems. That leaves the rotation with approximately the same number of days of rest, with the 6th man’s start skipped when there is any off days.

    Heck, if Lowry is going good, they could just just go with a 6 man rotation to the end of the year to give all their starters more rest: Lincecum and Cain are still very young and could use more rest, Sanchez is still young, and Johnson is very old and probably could use the rest too.

  6. obsessivegiantscompulsive says:

    Funny how life works sometimes: Baseball Analyst just did a study and Sanchez showed up among the top 30 pitchers (he was 24th overall out of 142 pitchers) in a new stat, K/100 pitches: BR/BR/And he was very nearly in the Top 10% of all pitchers in the study, with a 5.55 K/100 (5.80 was the cutoff point; he was just short of the top 15%). And as noted at this study, K/100 is highly correlated to ERA and RA.BR/BR/Another datapoint to support why we like Sanchez.BR/BR/Sidenote, lots of ex-Giants at the bottom, Correia, Burres, Ponson, Livan

  7. Jeff Fletcher says:

    Obsessive… you need your own blog. :)BR/BR/I agree that the Giants should start Sanchez or trade him, but not put him in the bullpen or make him a spot starter. He does not like that role and I think he has very little chance of succeeding in it. If he’s as good as the Giants think he is, the first option should be for him to start. I think they’ve already fooled around with him long enough by bouncing him back and forth.

  8. Anonymous says:

    OCG I really like your point about Lowry as the swing/long relief man. With Tim, Cain, Sanchez and (to some extent) The Big Unit being hard throwers Lowry should be different enough really mess with line ups a time or two through them. BR/BR/ I’ll confess Zito (with his traditional bad first couple months and soft tossing ways) would my back up choice to start the season as a swing/long relief man. Of course all this is without a single ball being thrown in spring training yet.BR/BR/daveinexile

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