The most important stat to project for Freddy Sanchez is games played. His knees are filled with yogurt, and his shoulders are filled with granola. If medical science could just figure out a way to put his knees in his shoulders, it would be delicious. As is, it’s pretty scary to have a second baseman with so many ouchies. But, heck, he was able to play 111 games in the regular season and 15 in the postseason, and when he was playing, he was exactly what the Giants could have hoped for. His defensive performance in Game Four of the World Series was one of the most underrated performances in the Giants’ postseason run.
The .344 batting average from 2006 jumps off his Baseball Reference page, but it’s lunacy to expect that again. No, his .292/.342/.397 line, mixed with fantastic defense, is just about right. It’s an average-dependent line, but it sure trumps almost everything the Giants were wheeling out to second after Ray Durham left. Remember the .226/.304/.337 line that Giants second basemen put up in 2007?
No, of course you don’t. Do you remember the time you threw up in the middle of your third-grade class, and Mrs. Stonchotti made you get the bag of sawdust yourself, even though you were sobbing incoherently?
Of course not. It appears as if we’ve discovered something that makes heroin seem like aspirin when it comes to dulling pain. Mmmm.
For this season, though, I’m a little worried about Sanchez. He’s coming off arthroscopic surgery, the second straight offseason in which he had an operation. His ostensible backup is Mark DeRosa. Between the two of them, they have two working ligaments, tops. It should be interesting. While it might not be a given that second basemen age faster than players at other positions, it’s pretty obvious that players over 30 can fall off a cliff at any time. Mix in the injuries, and Sanchez is a pretty good candidate to wake up and be, well, the player he was right after the Giants traded for him. That was a pretty miserable stretch.
My not-so-radical suggestion: rest him early, rest him often, especially against right-handed pitching. Against lefties, Sanchez is an absolute beast, while he’s bottom-of-the-order quality against righties. While Mark DeRosa has similar splits, it’d be worth playing him against some righties just to give Sanchez a lot of rest against the Roy Oswalts and Mat Latospi of the league. There would be a defensive hit in those 30 or 40 games, but treating Sanchez like a catcher might be the best way to keep him healthy.
If he is healthy, though, put me down for one more season like the last one. Like most average-dependent players, he’s a streaky, streaky player. Sometimes, it’s the good kind of streaking -- a model trying to liven up a dying party, say-- and that’s fun to watch. Sometimes, it’s the bad kind of streaking -- Chet from the Circle K, on PCP, at someone’s memorial service -- and that’s hard to watch. But the defense never slumps, dang it. Except when it does. But that’s really infrequent. Dude can pick it.
At this time last year, and well into the season, the two-year deal given to Sanchez looked like a complete mistake -- money thrown at a player to justify his initial acquisition. There was buyer’s remorse piled on top of buyer’s remorse. We could have had Orlando Hudson! Or Felipe Lopez! For less money! Arrrrgh!
Seems silly now. Sanchez is a pretty good player, and he makes the best faces when his teammates hit home runs. Orlando Hudson just kind of sneers. You can’t put a stat on that, nerds!