Anibal Sanchez is at the top of his gameBy
When the season began I posed the question “Is Anibal Sanchez‘s 2011 repatable?” He had a fine season, one that was worth 3.8 fWAR and he set career best marks in innings pitched, strikeouts, K/9, BB/9, and xFIP.
The question posed was one of legitimate reason and potential concern. After all, Sanchez had only surpassed 115 innings pitched twice in his career and his second half numbers were far different than his first half numbers. Take a quick look:
|Stat||First 16||Second 16|
In that article, I pointed out that Sanchez changed his approach halfway through the season to one that was using more of his slider but less of his fastball and change-up. He also had some bad luck on his side. Here is how his pitch usage differed over the first 16 starts and final 16 starts:
|Pitch||First 16||Second 16|
Sanchez must have learned from this since he is nearly back to his first half approach with 51.4% fastballs, 21.8% sliders, 20.6% change-ups, and 6.3% curveballs.
Sanchez’s change-up was his best pitch last year at +5.4 runs and the fact he used it less in the second half is something I will never understand. But he is now using it more than ever before and it has already been worth +7.7 runs, the best mark in the National League.
By going back to his first half approach, and improving on it a bit, he is having an amazing season so far in 2012 and is tied with Cole Hamels among all pitchers with 1.5 fWAR who have seven or fewer starts under their belt.
In seven starts this season Sanchez has allowed two earned runs or less in six of them and in the seventh he allowed only 3 earned runs. He has a “quality start” in each outing and has gone at least six innings in each start, including five straight starts of seven complete innings.
It is still early but Sanchez is at the top of his game. He currently has career best marks in K/9 (9.70), BB/9 (2.28), HR/9 (0.57), ground ball rate (48.3%), and his ERA (2.28), FIP (2.46), and xFIP (2.94) are also all career bests.
Sanchez is not only at the top of his game but he is pitching like one of the best pitchers in the game.