Key Stats: Those who stuck with Jonathan Sanchez in 2010 were rewarded for their faith with a breakout year sporting a healthy 3.07 ERA (18th in MLB) & 1.23 WHIP (both career lows). But the stat that gets most fantasy owners really excited is Sanchez’s K/9 rate. With a 9.54 K/9, he ranked 4th in all of MLB behind fantasy aces Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester and to a lesser degree Yovani Gallardo.
Skeptics Say: While he possesses great pure stuff, Sanchez also can lose the plate at times as shown by his 4.47 BB/9 rate. Without a career high and somewhat lucky 79.5% LOB, some more of those walks should have turned into runs (he had a respectable 4.00 FIP). This lack of control keeps Sanchez from joining the upper tiers of fantasy pitchers but a small improvement could yield big dividends in his 2011 value.
Peer Comparison: Let’s take a look at two upside K plays with control problems in Jonathan Sanchez and Yovani Gallardo. Here are there 2010 stats:
Gallardo: 3.84 ERA 1.37 WHIP, 9.73 K/9, 3.65 BB/9
Sanchez: 3.07 ERA 1.23 WHIP, 9.54 K/9, 4.47 BB/9
Looking at these two pitchers ERA and WHIP you’d think that Sanchez was the better pitcher in 2010, however, when you look at the underlying stats Gallardo may have been the better pitcher. The most telling stat for the difference in the two pitchers is their BABip where Sanchez was rather lucky at .262 and Gallardo very unlucky at .340. Taking fielding out of account here were their Fielding Independent Pitching ERA’s:
For 2011, these two pitchers have similar value, but I would have to go with Gallardo (although I expect a higher BABip due to the Brewers defense being probably the worst in MLB with Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Yuniesky Betancourt and Casey McGehee.) However, if you hear of improved control in the spring for Sanchez, jump on Sanchez quickly.
Team Outlook: If you didn’t know the Giants just won the World Series. However, it had nothing to do with offense. Sanchez gets the benefit of facing the #3 starter in most team’s rotations due to having the great tandem of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in front of him. Not to mention Sanchez gets to pitch in AT&T Park which was the 9th best pitcher park in baseball.
The Giants offense was 17th in runs scored in 2010, however with a full year of Buster Posey, a bounce back year from Pablo Sandoval and the call up of Brandon Belt during the season, I could see this offense inch up to the top half of MLB and the NL.
What They’re Saying: Yahoo: #33 Starting Pitcher & #160 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #40 Starting Pitcher; Tristan Cockcroft at ESPN.com: #34 Starting Pitcher & #116 Overall; Couch Managers: #137 Overall; RotoChamp: #147 Overall
Projection: Jonathan Sanchez represents one of the better upside plays among SP. You can get him as your #2-3 starter, however, if he can cut down the walks, he could jump into the top 10-15 starters in fantasy baseball.
15 wins 3.25 ERA 1.20 WHIP 218 K’s
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