Anibal Sanchez | Pitcher | #19
2014 salary: $15.8 million
2013 statistics: 2.57 ERA, 2.39 FIP, 182 IP, 9 HR, 54 BB, 202 K, 2.67 BB/9, 9.99 K/9
Projected role: Rotation
First, in a very happy coincidence, today just happens to be Anibal Sanchez’s 30th birthday, so happy birthday to him. If he’s reading this. Which he isn’t.
Anyway, if not for a strained shoulder that cost him about a month of 2013, Sanchez likely would’ve been right in the middle of the Cy Young conversation. As it was, he had to settle for leading the AL in ERA. With this being by far the best season of Sanchez’s career, the worry that his 2013 will prove a bit fluky must creep into the minds of many.
Well, yes, it was a bit fluky. But the good news is Sanchez did a lot of sustainable things very well and the dropoff probably won’t be that huge.
First, the flukes: Sanchez’s home run to fly ball ratio – 8.1% over the course of his career – was a quite tiny 5.8% in 2013. It’s about 10% for your average pitcher. Pitchers have little control over things like this, so you can probably count on Sanchez giving up a few more homers this year.
Secondly, contact was way down against Sanchez last year. When hitters swung against Sanchez in the past, their contact rate was usually around 78 or 79%. Last year it went down to 73%, a considerable drop, and the percentage of strikes that were swung at and missed also jumped by about 3%. These numbers are unprecedented for Sanchez, and it wouldn’t be wise to count on him to do it again. That said, Sanchez’s career strikeout numbers are still quite good – he struck out 202 with Miami in 2011 as well – and even if it drops, he’ll still be an excellent pitcher.
The encouraging thing is, other than that, there were no real big changes in Sanchez’s underlying stats. His BABIP was perfectly normal and the rest of his batted ball numbers were consistent with his career averages. While there may have been a few outliers in Sanchez’s 2013, a lot of it is definitely repeatable. His ERA might go up some and he might not maintain the 10 K/9 strikeout rate, but it’ll be a surprise if he’s not still putting up front of the rotation quality numbers.