Key Stats: At 27 years old, Gaby Sanchez was an all-star. In the past, that statement would usually mean that a player should be ranked higher than 147, but the same rules apply to making a baseball all star team as they do for an under eight year old soccer league - everyone gets a trophy. The first half was good though. Sanchez hit .293 and hit 13 home runs. It was a far cry from his second half which saw him hit just .225 with 6 home runs. Overall the line for Sanchez was respecatable - more than 70 runs and RBI along with 19 home runs. The problem for Sanchez in fantasy is that that line is average at best at first base.
Skeptics Say: After he had a .788 OPS in his first full season as a 26-year-old with a respectable average and 19 home runs, some folks (including me) expected more from Sanchez as a sophomore. Let's remember though that he only hit 1 home run every 35 at-bats in the minors and that there was a reason he wasn't in the majors full-time until he was 26. This is the same franchise that called up Mike Stanton and Miguel Cabrera at age 20, so if Sanchez had proven himself to the powers that be, he would have been up sooner. For now, Sanchez is serviceable, but not great at a great position.
Peer Comparison: In making these rankings, you start to notice flaws only after writing about the player for an hour. That is the case in comparing Paul Goldschmidt to Sanchez. Here are three reasons to like Goldschmidt ahead of Sanchez.
- Goldschimdt's minor league track record was that he could absolutely rake for power. Sanchez lacks that in his track record.
- Goldschmidt had more steals than Sanchez in a third of the plate appearances.
- The parks favor Goldschmidt. The jury is still out with the Marlins moving into a new park, but the fences are further back to all fields except down the line in right (by 10 feet). Chase Field was better than average in terms of runs and home runs according to ESPN Park Factors.
Lineup Outlook: With more plate appearances last season, Sanchez finished with the same amount of runs and less RBI than he had in 2010. The RBI stat sticks out because Sanchez spent more time as the clean up hitter than any spot in the order in 2011, and more time hititng second than any other spot in 2010. The reason for that peculiar stat is directly attributed to Hanley Ramirez. Hitting in front of Hanley meant that pitchers had to be aggressive with him and he got opportunities to drive in runs and when he reached, it didn't hurt his run scoring opportunities to have Hanley up next. Hanley talked a great deal last season about staying on the field and making his team better. The talk didn't do much last season. Now the Marlins may turn to Jose Reyes at shortstop which will still leave the team with the problem of finding a healthy shortstop given Reyes' history, but nonetheless 120 games of Reyes and Hanley would give Sanchez an easy chance for a career high in RBI.
Projection: After a rise in line drives and a drop in BABIP, Sanchez should get some help in the luck department in 2012.
74 R 18 HR 86 RBI 5 SB .277 AVG .820 OPS in 575 at-bats