Tuesday, October 09, 2007

2007 Review: Freddy Sanchez

2006: .344/.378/.473 with 6 HR, 53 2B, and 2 3B
2007 PECOTA: .298/.344/.425 with 9 HR, 38 2B, and 4 3B
2007: .304/.343/.442 with 11 HR, 42 2B, and 4 3B

Wow. After Freddy Sanchez destroyed every single projection system known to man in 2006, PECOTA almost nailed his 2007 on the head, missing on just a few doubles and homers that account for small gap in slugging percentage. What does that mean for the future going on from here? Well, probably that the Freddy we saw this year is going to be a lot closer to what we can expect out of Freddy Sanchez than what we saw in 2006. Or, that he's going to be about the player we all hoped Jack Wilson would be.

The first thing we need to decide is what to make of his various injuries this year. He started the year with some nagging injuries and he finished the year with a shoulder problem, but from May 27th through September 6th he hit.332/.379/.521 with all 11 of his homers and 33 of his doubles in 89 games, which seems impressive. And I'm sorry, but that's cherry-picking. Freddy's got a pretty extensive injury history and to throw out almost half the season because he had nagging injuries and say "look at how he would've hit if he was healthy!" just kind of seems like cheating. Freddy may well be a guy that's always dealing with a pull here or a twinge there. That's just the way things work. He also adjusted well to second base this year. From a subjective perspective (mine) he seemed to start a bit slowly and finish strong. From a more objective perspective (Baseball Prospectus), he was 15 runs above average in the field. Combined with Jack Wilson's 19, that means that Jack and Freddy saved us 34 runs (or, about three wins) with their gloves over average (not replacement) fielding middle infielders. I didn't cross check the entire league, but I feel like that's got to be just about as good as it gets up the middle. This is all crap as it turns out I can't read. Freddy was 15 runs below average at second base this year and by that metric, one of the worst fielders in the league at any position.

I'm going to re-iterate what I said a little over a month ago: the Pirates need to trade Freddy Sanchez. The reason, quite simply, is perception. Freddy and Jack were damn near identical statistically this year. They both were about average at the plate (Freddy's OPS+ was 101, Jack's was 103) and they were both pretty slick in the field. Still, Freddy is "Two-time All-Star and former batting champ Freddy Sanchez! He's a .300 hitter! He can play two positions!" while everyone pretty much knows that what you see is what you get with Jack, a good glove and a potentially average hitter, with the emphasis on potentially. Admit it, as a Pirate fan that watched the two all year, you're shocked that Freddy and Jack were almost identical at the plate this year, aren't you? It seems hard to believe that Freddy's OPS+ was only 101, doesn't it? I know it was surprising to me. That's the exact reason that we should be shopping Freddy harder than Jack. Because people perceive Freddy to be a better player and perception is everything.