Lets continue the Miami Marlins 2012 season preview. Earlier this week we took a look at the ace of the Marlins staff, Josh Johnson. Today, we will take a look at the Marlins second best starting pitcher, Anibal Sanchez. Anibal has become one of the most underrated starters in all of baseball. Not only is Sanchez underrated by the rest of the league, he also is underrated by his own team, the Marlins. Maybe that explains why he was named the number 5 starter and has yet to get an offer for an extension.
I will rant more on this subject in a bit, but lets get started with the preview first.
To begin his Marlins career, health was always an issue for Anibal Sanchez. He has remained healthy the past two seasons and provided the Marlins with back-to-back strong campaigns. The health issues were a problem again earlier this spring, but Anibal has bounced back nicely since. Anibal is in his contract season and is hoping to get an extension with the Marlins. If he can post a strong 2012 campaign, he will set himself up nicely for a nice payday, whether that will be in Miami or elsewhere.
After a strong 2010 season, Anibal was back at it again in 2011. For much of the season, with JJ out, Anibal actually stepped in as the ace for the Marlins. He did an alright job, but his season overall was not as strong as his 2011 season.
There were some positives that Anibal could point to in 2011, though. Sanchez struck out a career-high 24.3 percent of hitter faced and he also continued to tone down his walks, as he walked a career-low 7.8 percent of batters. Now if Sanchez can combine that with the deflated home run rate he had in 2010, he could really have a break out season. Here is a look at his numbers for the past two seasons.
Sanchez has been consistently around 195-196 innings the past two seasons. The Marlins are hoping he can eclipse the 200 inning mark in 2012. If he can post another strong season in 2012, the Marlins are contenders, with a chance to win the division.
One thing to remember is that Sanchez was 27 years old in 2011. Pitchers generally begin decline at age 26. What we saw in 2011 may have just been a career year in terms of strikeouts and walks. When projecting Sanchez, we should definitely expect some regression on those of those stats. It is still possible Sanchez is still improving, but that will be something to be seen in 2012.
In 2010, we saw Sanchez have a ton of success because of a very low home run rate, his 2011 numbers were still above his career norms. Sanchez showed that he can be a solid pitcher, even when his home run rate is not at a very low rate. If he can combine his strikeout and walk rate of 2011 and his home run rate in 2011, Sanchez could have a very strong season headed into free agency.
Lets take a look at what some of the projections have to say about how Sanchez will fare in 2012:
All the projection systems have Sanchez pitching right around his career numbers. This is a slight regression from 2010 and 2011. The Fans of Fangraphs are the most optimistic about Sanchez posting a strong 2012 season, though ZiPS and Steamer project similar seasons. PECOTA is the most pessimistic, but they still have Sanchez having a strong season.
If you take out PECOTA’s projections, all three of the projection systems are in agreement of what we should expect from Sanchez. None of them have him maintaining his excellent strikeout rate in 2011, but his walk rate is not too far off. All these projections are also less optimistic about Sanchez posting a 200 inning season, minus the fans.
Lets take a look at what I project for Sanchez in 2012.
I have Sanchez just shy of hitting 200 innings, but right in line with what he has done over the past few seasons. With these projections, I have Anibal Sanchez as a 3.0 WAR player. That is a strong pitching season from Sanchez. As I have said in the past about these projections, it would surprise me a lot more to see Sanchez fail to post these numbers then to see him exceed these numbers.
Sanchez is the Marlins number 5 pitcher, but he is in all likelihood, the Marlins second best starer. More on that later today.