I came to a realization Tuesday. I have more faith in Angel Sanchez as a hitter than I do the rest of the roster.
Sure Brett Wallace and J.R. Towles appear to of figured it out, Hunter Pence is doing his usual thing, but there's just something about Sanchez that gives you more confidence that he will come through in those key situations.
Sure Pence came through in yesterdays game and even games before he's sent the crowd into mass celebration, but there are still those times when he flails at that slider down and away ending his failed plate appearance. Given enough time I'm sure Sanchez finds some way for us to begin to lose confidence in him as well, but that has yet to be determined.
But let's not confuse things, Sanchez is what you would describe as a replacement level player. His defense is okay as long as he's playing second base and his hitting is below average. Still he's third on the team in both RBI's and Runs, and while those are overrated statistics, they still say something.
Let's forget the .305 wOBA, the 91 OPS+ and even the small sample size caveat. I'm not looking to predict Sanchez's future success but want to better understand my faith in Sanchez as a hitter in crucial situations.
Digging into his count statistics via Baseball Reference there's nothing out of the ordinary. With the pitcher ahead he has a .524 OPS, when he's ahead he has a .739 OPS. His best count is 1-1 in which he has a .905 OPS and his worst is 2-0 with a .286 OPS. There are little nuances about every hitter, but for the most part he's producing when the count is in his favor and not when it isn't.
Throw some men on base though and you've got a entirely different hitter.
The criteria seems to be having a man standing on third when Sanchez steps into the batters box. With men on first and second, whether it be 1st or second or both, he's hitting for a whopping .614 OPS and a .618 OPS with no one on. Add a runner to third base and suddenly he becomes an .800+ OPS hitter. It get's better, add two outs and suddenly he's an MVP candidate with a 1.063 OPS, of course that's in only 17 plate appearance and we should not predict any future success based on these numbers, but in the past Sanchez has risen to the occasion in big moments
There's more. Against National League Central opponents he's an above average hitter, save the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even better two of the top three teams he's hit the best against are the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs . Against two of our biggest rivals, when we're more likely to pay attention, Sanchez has been an extremely good hitter.
This isn't anything ground breaking, but it does help explain why I have confidence in a hitter that I have no confidence in as a regular.