I hope you're all enjoying prospect week as much as I am contributing to it. The dazzling Angel (AnHell) Sanchez is our next study. Last month I compared him and Tommy Manzella, with the conclusion that both players would be nothing more than replacement level players at the shortstop position. We'll explore what he's done for the season and see if an increase in sample size has changed that analysis.
It appears that the Astros have gone with a bit of a rotation at the shortstop position. Getting time to those young enough and capable enough to handle the position. Manzella, Sanchez, and the recently acquired Matt Downs appear to be in a bit of a competition for the shortstop position through the end of this season. Needless to say having a good final month of the season will go a long way in determining who will have a leg up at the shortstop position heading into the offseason.
With Manzella on the shelf, our worst fears were realized with Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger manning the shortstop position. On July 1st the Astros traded the, previously designated for assignment, Kevin Cash to the Boston Red Sox for Angel Sanchez. Having been in 3 other organization (Boston, Toronto, and Royals) Sanchez brought over a career .279/.334/.351 line in nine minor league seasons. To get something for Kevin Cash was pretty good, but to get an adequate starting shortstop is amazing. An Angel appeared.
Angel endeared himself to Astros fans by posting a .302/.353/.397 line for a .750 OPS in his first 17 games with the Astros. Solid numbers for a short stop and certainly an offensive upgrade over Manzella who had been flirting with .200 for much of the season. He lacked the range of Manzella but still seemed to dazzle fans with his defense, and seemed to have a knack for getting that big hit. This prompted Mills to move Sanchez into the number two spot of the lineup, allowing Keppinger's bat to strength the lower part of the order. Sanchez posted a .269/.313/.346 slash line in 21 games, for the month.
Highlight: "Spectacular play!"
Sanchez posted a .266/.286/.321 line in 27 games for the month of August. His on base percentage took a bit of a hit this month. He had four walks and a HBP in July but only three walks in August with more games played. Which is the problem with dealing with sample sizes like these, but it is what it is. By the end of month his OBP had fallen slightly below .300 which is never good for a hitter, especially one who lacks the defensive brilliance to off set his mediocre offensive stats. At the end of August he had an OPS of .629, and with a higher than normal batting average on balls in play (BABiP) he was in danger of following below .600 OPS.
Highlight: Sanchez spanks the Cardinals
September and beyond
He has however avoided this by returning to his dazzling ways, posting a .500/.545./.900 line in 11 plate appearances (PA) so far this month. A large part for a such a high slugging percentage (.900) from a light hitting shortstop is that in his 10 at bats he has 2 triples. He had two triples total in the previous two months. You could say he's on a mini-tear lately. His OBP is above .300, and his batting average is above .270 again. Getting off to a good start, and having a good September is going to help his chances for next year.
Highlight: Sanchez drives in Myers
Sanchez is carrying a relatively high BABiP, and has carried a high BABiP for much of the season. His LD% of 24.4% indicates he could have a BABiP over the .300 mark, allowing him to be a .260-.270 hitter. Even being able to sustain a high BABiP may not be enough for Sanchez to be even an average hitter, though. Currently with his high BABiP Sanchez has a .297 weight on base average (wOBA), which is considered a slightly below average hitter. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) has dropped slightly below replacement level and has joined Manzella in negative territory.
WAR takes into account a players defense, currently across the board Sanchez is considered a below average fielder. We are dealing with a small sample size as far as defense goes, so take his current standings with a grain of salt. He does provide Mills with a good option for replacing Keppinger defensively in late close games.
As a starter I don't like Sanchez, he doesn't provide enough offensively or defensively to be valuable. Move him to the bench and I like him a lot more coming off the bench. While he lacks range at short he's the second best option on this team defensively behind Manzella. He's also shown a knack for getting a hit in key situations, and coming off the bench that can be very valuable.