by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s become obvious that Gary Sanchez has emerged as the premier catcher in the game, living up to the hype that has been bestowed upon him. While his rise to prominence has taken some twists and turns, that’s generally the case with any young player and he rewarded those who stuck with him last season:
471 At Bats
.278 Batting Average (131 Hits)
33 Home Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.345 On Base Percentage
.531 Slugging Percentage
.304 Batting Average on Balls in Play
That backed up his “breakout” 2016, which came over 201 AB, so there aren’t any questions moving forward right? Regardless of being the top option at his position or not, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns heading into ’18 and beyond:
We all knew he wasn’t going to maintain the 40.0% HR/FB he posted in ’16, but can he continue with his 25.4% mark last season? Given the rigors of catching that too may not be sustainable, especially considering he was buoyed by two huge months:
- June – 9 HR (42.9% HR/FB)
- August – 12 HR (28.6% HR/FB)
That leaves 12 HR over the other four months combined (though it’s closer to three months, with only 20 AB in April). Even if he were to maintain that pace we’d be talking about a 24 HR hitter, so with a little “explosion” we’re talking 25-28 HR as a floor. There’s nothing wrong with that, just know the outlook.
A drop in his power is going to have a negative impact on his average, and there also is the risk of a regression in his 22.9% strikeout rate given his 12.5% SwStr% and 33.7% O-Swing%. Considering that the swings and misses come against all types of pitches, that concern grows even further:
- Hard – 10.15%
- Offspeed – 17.29%
- Breaking – 18.36%
You combine a rise in strikeouts with even a slight drop in power, we’re talking about a sub-.270 hitter. From a catcher there’s nothing wrong with that, again just know the risks.
.265 (126-475), 30 HR, 85 RBI, 75 R, 1 SB, .296 BABIP, .324 OBP, .507 SLG
Sure these expectations are a small step backwards from his ’17 campaign, but would anyone complain if he reached them? Among catchers with at least 200 PA last season only three hit at least 25 HR (Sanchez, Salvador Perez and Mike Zunino). We all know Zunino is unlikely to post a strong average (he was at .251 last season, due to luck) and in a weaker lineup Perez doesn’t offer the upside in RBI/R. As long as Sanchez stays healthy he’s going to be the elite at his position, with the potential to outproduce our projections. Even if he “regresses”, the value will be there.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|