Gaby Sanchez is greatly disliked by some Pirate fans – to the point of continuous ridicule. But the truth is that he performed his limited role with the Pirates last year better than any player on the team.
Gaby Sanchez does not hit right-handed pitchers well – at all. He has no speed. And he can only play one position. So, it’s a very good thing that he was not brought to Pittsburgh to manhandle right-handers, steal bases, or be a utility infielder/outfielder.
Gaby Sanchez was brought to Pittsburgh to play first-base against left-handed pitchers. And, in 2013, he did that better than any player in major league baseball.
Among major league 1B who had at least 100 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, Gaby Sanchez was:
First in batting average.
First in on-base percentage.
Third in slugging percentage.
First in OPS.
First in Runs Created per Game.
First in weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+).
And First in weighted On-Base-Average (wOBA).
Sanchez’s batting line against lefties was .333/.448/.539 — .987 OPS.
The Pirates could not have asked for a better performance out of Sanchez. Yet, there are fans who think he should be shown the door because he didn’t hit right-handers. But that was Garrett Jones‘ job. And after Jones failed, it became Justin Morneau‘s job. And since Morneau failed, it will be a yet unknown player’s job in 2014.
Gaby Sanchez’s job, once again, was to hit left-handed pitchers. And, once again, he did it better than any other first-baseman in major league baseball.
The fans who ridicule Sanchez and want his ouster probably didn’t feel the same outrage about a certain Pirate platoon player of yesteryear.
So, let’s compare their numbers:
Sanchez vs. LHP: .333/.448/.539 — .987 OPS
Hero of Yesteryear vs. LHP: .311/.362/.617 — .979 OPS
Sanchez vs. RHP: .204/.265/.377 — .642 OPS
Hero of Yesteryear vs. RHP: .217/.239/.392 — .631 OPS
That’s right. The Gaby Sanchez of 2013 was just a shade better than the beloved Bill Robinson of the 1979 World Champion Pirates.
Having a first-baseman who hits right-handers the way Gaby Sanchez hits left-handers would go a long way toward getting the Pirates back to the playoffs – and more.