In each of the community projections, I link to some of the more established projection systems. A couple of these have a list of comparable players –players with similar statistical profiles at a similar age to the players the systems are trying to project. Jonathan Sanchez’s comparisions:
PECOTA: Steve Carlton, Bill Wight, Monte Kennedy, Bud BlackI know, I know. You’re thinking, "Wow, Bill Wight!" Yep. The very same. In addition to Wight, Sanchez somehow compares to three Hall-of-Famers and a Hall-of-Quite-Gooder out of seven total comparisons. This doesn’t really mean anything – don’t put down that deposit at a Cooperstown B&B just yet – but it highlights how unique Jonathan Sanchez is. Left-handed starters who strike out a ton of batters are rare. Sometimes, their control improves and they go on to slay dragons (Carlton) or commit impressive atrocities (Koufax). Sometimes, they get hurt and fade away (Almost Everyone Else). But the ceiling…man, that ceiling.
Andrew Baggarly has a nice feature article on Sanchez today, and it covers most of what one might need to know about Sanchez. Lefty, inconsistent, flashes of brilliance, sky’s the limit. Then there’s this part:
Sanchez's stuff ranks with the elite. Last year, he generated a greater percentage of swings and misses on his pitches (19 percent) than all but two starting pitchers (Rich Harden and Javier Vazquez) in the National League. Yes, even more than Lincecum (18 percent) or Matt Cain (15 percent).
But there’s something familiar about this projection. From last year’s projection
I don't think the breakout comes this year. But we're teased. Again. Dang it.
Oh, how we were teased at the end of last season. From the no-hitter through the rest of the season – which is also when he was put back in the rotation – Sanchez had a 3.46 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 93 innings. Now that’s an arbitrary starting point that will make you think.
Other projections for him this year:
PECOTA: 176 IP, 4.03 ERA, 78 BB, 178 K, 18 HRA
Bill James: 184 IP, 3.91 ERA, 94 BB, 196 K, 18 HRA
CHONE152 IP, 4.26 ERA, 73 BB, 157 K, 17 HRA
ZiPS: 156 IP, 4.15 ERA, 77 BB, 169 K, 17 HRA
As much as I’d like to think this is the Season of Clarification, I’ll predict more of the maddening same. Until Sanchez shows something approaching mediocre command, he’ll still have those uncomfortable 90-pitch, four-inning grindfests every other game. And his stamina is still going to be an issue.
If he wants to turn into vintage Sandy Koufax or Randy Johnson, though, I fully encourage his decision to do so.