What might Jonathan Sanchez have left?

Posted By on August 15, 2011 9:30 am

Giants fans have certainly been wondering what the future holds for Jonathan Sanchez. I obviously don’t have a crystal ball, but I was curious about what type of futures pitchers typically have after having numbers similar to Sanchez at a similar age.

For starters, Sanchez is 28 years old and he has a career ERA+ of 98 over 173 big league games, 117 of them starts. That means he’s been a slightly below average pitcher over a significant number of games. His age is also a key number here. He’s not a kid anymore.

So here’s what I did. I somewhat arbitrarily picked 1960 as a starting point so I could have a reasonable number of pitchers in my sample. I used baseball-reference to round up all the pitchers who, through their age 28 season, had made at least 100 starts with an ERA+ of less than 100. I came up with these 182 pitchers.

Now, I took that list and filtered the pitchers out by how many individual seasons they had, from age 29 or later, with an ERA of 100 or better, with a minimum 162 innings. That means they were average or better starting pitchers over a full season.

If you look at that list, you see that only 57 of them (less than one-third) had even one season of 100 ERA+ pitching. And 100 ERA+ isn’t that great. It’s average. Only 35 of them had more than one average-or-better season. If you crank it up to 110 ERA+ seasons, which translates to an ERA of about 3.70 in the current NL, only 44 of them had one season, and only 22 had more than one.

The good news is that Sanchez is probably at the upper end of my initial group of 182 pitchers. He’s one of only 32 of those pitchers who had an ERA+ season of 125 in the 28-and-younger period. And his career ERA+ of 98 obviously puts him at the upper end of my 99-and-below group. So he’s got all that going for him.

We’ll see what happens.


One Response to “What might Jonathan Sanchez have left?”

  1. Jeff Fletcher says:

    When I looked at this again and realized I was lumping Sanchez in with pitchers who were almost all worse than him, I thought maybe that wasn’t quite fair.

    So I did it again, this time using pitchers whose ERA+ was 96 to 102 through age 28. That’s a group of 119, and Sanchez falls exactly in the middle.


    Now, I did the same filter on them, looking for 100 or better ERA+ seasons from age 29 or later…


    It’s still not great. Only 55 of those pitchers had one average season, and only 35 of the had more than one.

    To summarize, of all pitchers over the past 51 years whose ERA+ was within three points of Jonathan Sanchez after 100+ starts through age 28, less than half of them had even a single “average” season as a major league starter from age 29 or later. Less than one third had more than one.

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