“I think in a way we have two new free agents, Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez because they are both coming back.”
This was from Giants President Larry Baer back in November when talking about the Giants’ needs for the off-season. He brought it up when he was talking about the need to go out and spend on a player that could improve the offense.
Now that free agency is pretty much wrapped up it’s safe to say that the Giants aren’t going to make any splashy moves (I know I am REALLY going out on a limb to say this), besides the trades for Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, to try to improve one of the worst offenses in the history of the team.
The team thinks that these additions — plus a bounce back year from Aubrey Huff and a full season of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez — will bring this offense back to a respectable level.
While that isn’t out of the question, I want to take a couple of minutes to focus on that last part: how a full season of Freddy Sanchez would help the team.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that a full season would help that much and that’s taking the leap of faith that Sanchez is even going to be able to play a full season.
So here is the bad news:
- Freddy Sanchez is projected by ZIPS to be the 37th-best second basemen in the majors when sorted by OPS+, behind mashers like Jeff Keppinger (who was too much of a luxury to keep around), Alexi Casilla and Brooks Conrad.
- His .313 OBP puts him at 51st (even with the 11th-best projected batting average!), and by all accounts if he is healthy Bruce Bochy is going to put batting second where his poor on-base skills will magnify his harmful impact on the offense. His poor walk rate really hurts him in this category, and just imagine if his shoulder affects his legendary bat control and makes his batting average go down.
- If we want to move away from OPS+ and switch to wOBA instead the news is just as bad if not worse, where his projected .301 wOBA ranks 47th among second basemen.
When I look at things like this I begin to think that the Giants’ management team is selling something that Sanchez is unlikely to deliver. He may be better than these projections (after all projections are far from foolproof predictors of the future), but the truth is he hasn’t had a season that was significantly above average since 2006 (his wRC+ since then are 101, 73, 95, 102 and 99) and that was several injuries ago.
Talking about the injuries leads me into my next point — how many games can we reasonably expect from Sanchez this season? Luckily, Chris Quick over at Bay City Ball has done quite a bit of the heavy lifting on this question already and even did some crowdsourcing.
Here is a borrowed graph (why reinvent the wheel?) of his plate appearances by season:
Not a pretty trend there for those depending on Sanchez.
The results of the crowdsourcing are also quite depressing with 91 percent of respondents thinking that he will log less than 500 plate appearances this season. With his injury history since joining the Giants, I have a hard time making the case that these people are wrong.
With the rather pedestrian projections, the just okay fielding and the risk of him not lasting through a full season, I think the time has come for those depending on Sanchez to ride to the rescue to save this abysmal offense to reconsider a few things.
It doesn’t matter what Baer tries to sell Giants fans. Getting back Sanchez isn’t a big step forward for the offense, and what he will provide is still a question with his body failing him.