The Florida Marlins have recalled Sanchez to fill the 25-man roster spot vacated late Monday, when they optioned left-hander Andrew Miller to Triple-A New Orleans. Sanchez was hitting .284 with nine homers, 39 RBI and a .791 on-base plus slugging percentage.
The move was long anticipated, and all Marlins fans are hoping the promotion of Gaby Sanchez to the majors is enough to end the Emilio Bonifacio era of Marlins baseball, at least until season’s end. Bonifacio has been an abject failure and a drain on the offense, and no amount of sugarcoating by anyone on the Marlins management team can change my opinion on that, as well as the opinion of many others.
But does that mean that Gaby Sanchez is the answer to our third base needs? I decided to check out his minor league numbers and MLE’s to figure out what Sanchez does best. First off, John Sickel’s opinion:
12) Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Grade C+: Borderline B-, but MLEs show him as a .260/.340/.420 hitter, not great for a first baseman. I do like his plate discipline.
All right, that gives us a general idea of what to look for in Gaby. He was a college catcher at the University of Miami, but was moved to first base when arriving in the professional leagues. First base is where he best profiles, though he’s played quite a few games at third base this season in Triple-A New Orleans. By all accounts however, he’s a pedestrian third baseman and a much better first baseman. As a hitter, he’s a decent contact hitter with a good approach at the plate, as evidenced by consistently posting over 10% walk rates in each level in the minors and keeping his K% down underneath 20%. Last season in Double-A Carolina, Gaby Sanchez put up a Southern League MVP season, posting a .314/.404/.513 line, good for a .411 wOBA. But using Minor League Split’s Minor League Batting Calculator, Sanchez’s season looks far more tame, yielding a more mediocre .260/.330/.406 slash line, with a 51/76 BB/K ratio. This would be the modern day equivalent of a league average hitter.
This season in Triple-A, Sanchez has taken a step back in terms of development, posting an MLE of .237/.287/.354, but a right knee injury in early May sidelined him and he struggled a bit in his return. He’s also had a dip in BB%, posting a BB% of 8.9% this season against Triple-A pitching.
However, as I mentioned earlier this season, it isn’t so much how well Sanchez can perform as much as how much better he can perform than the out machine we currently have at third base. While Sanchez profiles as a below average third baseman with limited range and a league average hitter, Bonifacio has shown he is far worse than that. Though I wouldn’t doubt Bonifacio is slightly better fielding the position, it is clear he needs more time in the minor leagues before he is ready for a shot for the major league team. If Sanchez can show anything resembling league average work, he could add a lot of production to a struggling Marlins offense.
The question I have is why even bother to call Gaby up? Sanchez has some talent and wouldn’t it be better if he were playing everyday in the minors instead of assuming the Robert Andino memorial spot on the bench? The Marlins don’t need him as a back up for the corner spots, the gritty ones (Helms and Gload) can do that. If they want a third catcher up with the team, then bring up a catcher. If they want a pinch hitter, younger players typically don’t perform all that well in that duty. It is a skill that seems to improve with age. And anyway, we have the gritty ones.
First off, I love the use of “the gritty ones” referring to Ross Gload and especially Wes Helms. I’ll be using that if you don’t mind. And I agree. If Sanchez is to stick on major league club, he needs to at least platoon with Bonifacio. Sticking him as “pinch-hitter and last guy on the bench” won’t let him work back from his minor slump. And he’s 25 right now, he needs to play a bit in the majors. They’ve given Boni a chance and he’s proven he needs more help, there’s no reason not give Gaby a chance as well, especially with the team in a pennant race.
Knowing the Marlins and their love of Bonifacio, this won’t happen. But it should. And if Boni sticks all year and I have to write BoniLines in September, then I have to agree with Rob Neyer’s sentiment from yesterday that the Marlins don’t really want to win. Not putting the best talent available in your organization in the lineup everyday is inexcusable. It’s worse than not having the talent to field a major league squad, like Marlins teams of the late ’90’s.
They already avoided benching Bonifacio once when they brought Chris Coghlan, a career infielder and college third baseman, up from the minors to play left field. They can’t avoid this much longer. Please, all of the Marlins fan base implores you, Marlins management and front office, do the right thing. Put in our savior from the minor leagues, even if his name is Gaby Sanchez and he isn’t great right now. He deserves a shot, and we deserve to be given a fair chance to win.