Gaby Sanchez: Baseball’s Best – at “HIS” Job

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.

184 thoughts on “Gaby Sanchez: Baseball’s Best – at “HIS” Job

  1. Rich,

    Great site. I found it after a mention on Pirates Prospects. I think that Gaby is one of the most misunderstood players of 2013 and will continue to be for 2014. I just hope they find that mysterious other half of the platoon to clear up some of the angst.

    • Thanks. I’m glad you found the site. Pirates Prospects has been a great encouragement to me and their is nobody who does a better job of covering the Pirates minor league system.

      A player has to be evaluated based upon his role. Complaining that Sanchez can’t hit right-handers is like criticizing Jason Grilli for not being able to start.

  2. Rich.
    Love the site and I loves me some Gabby Sanchez. I was down in Altoona when the Pirates came up this past spring and watched Gabby just unloading in BP. I think he put seven straight balls over the left field wall (and deep too) and he was driving the fans nuts out there in the bleachers and on the hillside. Thought to myself Gabby would break out in ’13.

    Well, proof is in the pudding. He broke out against lefties.

    Really appreciate the blogosphere’s work. Keep marching man.

    -Wabbit

    • Thanks, Wabbit. (Is that an Elmer-Fudd/Buggs-Bunny reference?)

      I was in Altoona for that game. What a wonderful day. 65 degrees and sunny at the end of March. Fans absolutely hungry for baseball. Beautiful setting. I wish they were doing it again this year.

      If the Pirates saw more lefties, Gaby Sanchez would really pay off. I love his approach at the plate. Disciplined. Takes what pitchers give him (the lefties). Great walk rate (vs. lefties). He did his jobe and he did it well.

  3. Gaby is great versus lefties, completely agree. The problem is CH’s believe that he could hit righties and his 194 PAs vs RHPs, a lot of them seeming to come in late game situations when he was a defensive replacement. So, to the casual fan, he sucked about 2/3s of the time, considering he only had 126 PAs vs lefties.

    • Part of the reason he hit so much against right-handers was that when a lefty was facing Jones, Sanchez would pinch-hit and a right-hander would be brought in to face him. I think Hurdle decided that he would rather have Sanchez face a right-hander than Jones face a lefty.

      Putting Jones in RF and starting Sanchez against a right-hander was clearly a mistake.

      I agree that Sanchez’s many at-bats against right-handers did turn fans against him.

    • Being compared to those other blogs is just about the best compliment this site could get. Thank you. Your words are more of an encouragement than you might know. Much appreciated.

    • I hope that’s not the case. I hope it’s because he had too many at-bats against right-handers. But, on the other hand, there were people who were down on Pedro Alvarez “because” he wore his cap over his ears.

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