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  1. Giants insiders have been saying for years that Sanchez’ command problems stem from a simple fact – he has small hands and can’t grip the ball well sometimes. He has release point issues that are probably not fixable. If any of their high ceiling arms steps up in the next 12 months, I expect the G’s to trade him away for some middle infield help.

    Comment by Fergie348 — December 22, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

  2. I want to learn the difference between command and control.

    Comment by My echo and bunnymen — December 22, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  3. Did you take a look-see at Sanchez’s 1st & 2nd half splits ? Take a further gander at his Sept/Oct.

    Something happened. He got the grip down on his change and was able to maintain the arm slot on his fastball. I find it hard to think he is likely to regress as far as you’ve stated.

    And how big of a drop do you really think it will be going from Renteria/Uribe to Tejada?

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 22, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

  4. hard to believe, sometimes hard to think

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 22, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

  5. yeah but he figured some things out in the 2nd half if you’ll recall. But if they can get a major return on him, then by all means…

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 22, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

  6. I guess control refers strictly to hitting a target while command is broader in scope and address the quality of the break and velocity of a pitch.

    Comment by Cole Handsome — December 22, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

  7. +1

    Also, one thing I’ve accepted about Jonathan Sanchez is that the dude is hard to hit. I don’t see his BABIP fluctuating the way Joe does…

    Comment by Andrew — December 22, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

  8. Control is ability to throw strikes. Command is ability to located the ball to certain spots. You can have control and not have command, as you can throw strikes and not know where it is going. Those pitchers tend to struggle as they frequently make mistakes down the middle.

    Comment by Bryan B — December 22, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  9. Jonathan Sanchez is the best, especially because of the contract situation. He can be dominant and has the highest ceiling. Against a lefty heavy lineup, he’s tough to pitch, though he may not be able to go as deep into games as one would like, but everyboby isn’t Roy Halladay.

    One factor that isn’t mentioned on CJ Wilson is that he seems like a flake. I’m not saying that he isn’t a talent, but I just think it is something that GMs take into consideration.

    Comment by Cole Handsome — December 22, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  10. The Giants have had numerous opportunity to trade Sanchez. Sabean has steadfastly refused despite a lot of popular pressure from fans and Bay Area sports commentators. In fact, he specifically mentioned that as a decision he is proud of in post WS interviews!

    Yes, Sanchez is 28, but he was older when he was drafted out of a small college program but is otherwise on a steady upward career trajectory. He may be close to his ceiling now, but I don’t think he will regress significantly in the near future. The Giants may well find themselves needing to trade a pitcher or two as they all get expensive at the same time, but it won’t be because of a lack of belief in his continued performance.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 22, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

  11. Command/control: the simplest explanation I’ve heard is that the measure of control is few walks, the measure of command is many strikeouts (the latter is particularly over-simplified, of course).

    Comment by Mr Punch — December 22, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

  12. It’s pretty semantic. I tried to press Bryan Smith for a concrete answer in a thread a while back and it still sounded weird.

    Comment by Locke — December 22, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

  13. I thought stuff was the measure of strikeouts?

    Comment by bsizzle — December 22, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  14. If hand size is the issue, how is it junior high kids can pound the strike zone?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 22, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  15. Control = BB/9
    Command = K/BB or K-BB

    Comment by Terrence McDonagh — December 22, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

  16. I’m not on either extreme when it comes to walks. Obviously I prefer non-walks to walks, but do not go overboard about it.

    There are times when walking a guy is probably better than trying to battle back from 3-0 or 3-1 or even 2-0 depending on ML hitter. Guys that can do that consistently aren’t the ones that generally fall behind that bad in the first place.

    Anyway, why not just go with the guy with the highest k-rate and lowest BAA? Oh, you did. *grin*

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 22, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

  17. Within-season splits, especially for pitchers, can be quite problematic.

    Comment by Travis — December 22, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  18. Because BAA isn’t highly correlated between years? (assuming BAA = batting average against). I arrived at the same answer in this instance, but BAA wasn’t one of the inputs.

    Comment by Travis — December 22, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

  19. 4 years is a pretty decent sample size, right? Over the last 4 years, Sanchez’ WHIP, BAA, H/9 and OBA have dropped steadily as has his ERA. Yet, his K/9, BB/9 and K/BB have remained essentially stable. Are you going to attribute his steady improvement over 4 years to luck?

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 22, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  20. Despite having mostly flyball pitchers, the Giants are very stingy with HR’s Allowed. Part of that is due to the parks they play in, but their success is a little more dramatic than that. Having watched a lot of Giants games, I have a theory that their organizational philosophy is intentionally HR averse. When one of their pitchers goes to 2-0 on a hitter with 2 runners already on base, you and I would probably go out to the mound and say something like, “just throw strikes, dammit!” I have this suspicion that Righetti goes out there and says something like “don’t forget you still have an open base. Whatever you do, don’t groove one that he’ll hit for a home run!”

    That’s one reason why I think they tend to give up more than their share of walks and tend to have better ERA’s than FIP’s.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 22, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

  21. I wouldn’t say its all luck, but his BABIP has dropped from .367 to .264 and his strand rate increased from 71% to 79% during that time period. Some of that can be chalked up to an improvement in skill, but luck must be considered as a factor–both having bad luck four years ago and good luck last year. I think his talent is somewhere between his 2010 and 2009 numbers.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — December 22, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

  22. Sanchez’s HR/FB rate is 10% or league average. The only reason he outperformed his FIP last season is due to his LOB%. For his career, Sanchez’s ERA is actually higher than his FIP.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — December 22, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

  23. And with the entire NL West being full of cavernous outfields and low power offenses. When its effectively a given each member of the Giants rotation will pitch 20+ games in PETCO, AT&T, and Dodger’s, it’s almost impossible to not post unsustainable HR/FB marks. It’s such a noticeable impact on their game that if Matt Cain wasn’t pitching in that division, i’d eat my hat if his career ERA wasn’t around 4.

    Comment by opisgod — December 22, 2010 @ 7:52 pm

  24. Junior high kids are usually just blazing heat. I bet there are some junior high kids who have hands bigger than JSanchez’ paws. That said, he is pretty hard to hit – I think he lead the league in BAA last year or was close to the top in that category. When he has fastball command and a feel for his breaking pitches, he’s excellent. It only comes around every other game or every third game, though..

    Comment by Fergie348 — December 22, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

  25. Command is your stuff, Control is where you put it.

    For an example on Control, a pitcher could have a good curveball that night with a big break to it, but if he misses his spot and throws it up around the letters (hanging curve) it will get crushed.

    An instance of lack of Command would be throwing a curveball belt high (good spot) that has no bite, and therefore spins up in the zone as if on a tee. That pitch gets crushed as well.

    Comment by Steve S. — December 22, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

  26. Per semantics, I’ve always thought of it this way:

    That guy is a “control” pitcher (always around the plate, works in/out, stays down in the zone, good sink, won’t overwhelm anybody with stuff).

    When that kid learns to “command” his stuff, Look Out. (High velocity fastball with plenty of movement, as RHP can run it in on righties and occassionally front-door lefties. Sharp break on slider out of zone and good action on change-up.)

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 22, 2010 @ 9:10 pm

  27. Problem with development reaping results in the 2nd half ?

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 22, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

  28. The thing about Sanchez is his deceptive arm slot. Hitters react to his 90-91 like it is 94-95. Personally, I think he is at his best when he has a little bit of a wild hair. Hitters get uncomfortable when they can’t predict location.

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 22, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

  29. I could see the mets reaching out and offering Reyes for Sanchez.

    Comment by 42yankees — December 22, 2010 @ 9:30 pm

  30. This is mostly just rehashing what some other posters said but it might be worth it to look at Sanchez’s game log. Sometimes last season, he’d come up with a 5 IP 6k 8BB 2R performance, or he could go long with 10+k and a small number of walks. Average these two types of games together and you get a walk rate of over 4BB/9. I can hardly remember a start where he actually matched that ratio. It would be interesting to check out the distribution of his starts on either side of his average.

    Comment by Wavaw — December 22, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

  31. Ok I give! What does ground ball rate have to do with hr/fb? It really doesn’t matter if your ground ball rate is 90% or 10%. Your hr/fb should gravitate to the average (10%). Additionally, don’t high K pitchers have higher strand rates? A K allows noone to score. a batted ball always gives the runner a chance to score.
    And I’m sorry, but most big league pitchers can throw it down the middle for a strike. That’s control. They won’t walk anybody but will get hit allot. To get big league hitters out you need to pitch to the corners. That’s command. They always talk about Cliff Lee’s ability to throw to all quadrants of the zone. He has great command of the strike zone. Some pitchers simply can’t throw it accurately down and away to a lefty.
    1. hr/fb is not gb related
    2. higher k rates mean higher strand rates
    3. command within the zone

    Comment by Chicago Mark — December 22, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  32. That was a fantastic article.

    Comment by Ronald — December 22, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

  33. Sanchez also had a ridiculous LD% which is why his balls in play average was low.

    I know this foreign to the fangraphs community, but there is something to be said for inducing weak contact easier outs.

    His ERA will suffer a little bit, but i expect his innings to go up to around the 200 mark, and he will once again, be one of the best 3rd/4th starters in baseball.

    Comment by Nick — December 22, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

  34. If Sanchez’ batted ball numbers had been up and down over 4 years, I could buy the luck theory, but steady, sustained improvement over a 4 year period is a long enough time frame that luck becomes an unlikely explanation.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 22, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

  35. In terms of command and contol as it is used in coaching and with describing pitchers …

    Control = throws strikes

    command = can hit spots

    Command is the next progression level of control.

    Both terms are used as compliments. You wouldn’t say that a pitcher has control just because he keeps throwing cockshots that leave the park.

    The terms take on different definitions for level of player. For example, in junior high a pitcher might have command of a changeup if he can keep it at knee level, in high school command could be keeping it low and away, and at the highest levels it could be hitting your catcher in the kneecap consistently.

    But generally control is consistently around the strike zone, few walks Bret Saberhagen. Command is dominance with a combination of stuff and location … Greg Maddux.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 22, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

  36. I was referring more to Cain than Sanchez, but the fact that Sanchez is starting to show the same tendencies with experince tends to support my hypothesis that the Giants coaching staff teaches “effective wildness” as a organizational philosophy.

    The Giants don’t try to walk batters, but they understand that most HR’s are hit off “mistake” pitches or when pitchers give in to batters and get too much of the strike zone trying to avoid walks. I believe that the Giants believe it’s better to load the bases than give up a 3 run HR. Maybe even better to walk in a run than give up a grand slam.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 22, 2010 @ 11:35 pm

  37. And I assume the possibility that it’s simply regression making up for the unsustainable that occurred earlier is out of the question. This does happen.

    Comment by opisgod — December 22, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

  38. The Giants play as many games in Coors Field and The BOB as they do in LA and Petco. Matt Cain has allowed 51 HR’s at home and 46 away in his career. Sanchez has allowed 33 at home and 31 away. Their home park is not a factor in their HR rate.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 22, 2010 @ 11:39 pm

  39. Opisgod,

    I assume you were replying to me. No, not out of the question, but very unlikely that a sustained, progressive improvement over 4 years is due only to luck or regression.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 22, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  40. With raw numbers huh? Pitchers can end up with a noticeable disparity in IP between H/R you know.

    Comment by opisgod — December 22, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

  41. Isn’t it true though that the strike zones the younger you go get wider to help (a) pitchers who generally cannot hit the zone with regularity (the younger you go and (b) to get batters to swing away instead of trying to stand there with the bat and walk all day?

    Comment by KaminaAyato — December 23, 2010 @ 12:33 am

  42. isnt control the ability to consistently throw strikes, whereas command is the ability to throw it to particular spots

    Comment by keith — December 23, 2010 @ 1:00 am

  43. Opisgod,

    You know, you really ought to look up stuff before you go posting sarcastic comebacks. Matt Cain has pitched 52% of his games at home and has allowed 51% of his HR’s at home. Jonathan Sanchez has pitched 50+% of his games at home and has allowed 51% of his HR’s there. Again, the Giants home park has not had a significant effect on their ability to prevent HR’s.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — December 23, 2010 @ 1:17 am

  44. i think you two may be arguing the same point.

    Comment by disco burritos — December 23, 2010 @ 4:08 am

  45. You’re very close circle. But no matter how many hits/cockshots a pitcher gives up, he has good control if he walks few. Nick Blackburn has good control but gets hit a lot. It sounds like you might coach at the Jr. High level. That’s cool! You can have command of only one pitch or location of the strike zone. But at the higher levels that loses its luster. A good hitter who sees the same location over and over can eventually hit it well. If an MLB pitcher can only throw it low and away that is no longer command. That’s control.
    By the way, I didn’t mention my choice of the three pitchers. I’d take the one with the highest k rate who pitches in a pitchers park and doesn’t have to see the dh every day. Shoot, that’s Sanchez!

    Comment by Chicago Mark — December 23, 2010 @ 4:38 am

  46. So quick to criticize circle change while you are almost saying the same thing

    “A good hitter who sees the same location over and over can eventually hit it well. If an MLB pitcher can only throw it low and away that is no longer command. That’s control.” Circle change said “in high school command could be keeping it low and away”

    Comment by cjett — December 23, 2010 @ 6:52 am

  47. I’d take C.J. Wilson… it was his first season as a starter, he got to watch Cliff Lee up close, and unlike Sanchez whose stuff looks like it’s 94-95, he can actually still hit those speeds.

    Oddly, how can you say Sanchez had a better season(even arguably) than Wilson? Sanchez in his third full season as a starter failed to reach 200 innings pitched again. Wilson did in his first year starting while not only winning more games, but also almost matching Sanchez for hits allowed per 9 innings(7.1 to 6.6.) And Sanchez gave up twice as many long balls in a field that is more pitcher friendly… oh, he also pitched in the National League. Lewis faced better pitching being a number two starter the whole season, Sanchez was the number three starter. One guy had 3 complete games, the other zero… guess which one.

    Comment by Kyle — December 23, 2010 @ 7:31 am

  48. This is the credible answer among this list of misinformation. How do people not know this?

    Comment by The Nicker — December 23, 2010 @ 9:25 am

  49. DrBGiantsFan,

    How about a wager? I will bet you that Sanchez has a BABIP above .275 in 2011. That would mean he doesn’t even have to “improve” his BABIP, just keep it around the same.

    Would you take that wager?

    Comment by The Nicker — December 23, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  50. You’re one of the the few people that knows what command and control means, so props to you on that.

    I would guess what Joe meant when he said this about CJ Wilson: “His ground ball tendencies help mitigate the HR/FB ratio . . . ” was that CJ Wilson gets a lot of ground balls, so a likely regression to the mean (aka jump) in his HR/FB ratio wouldn’t be as damaging as it is to other pitchers.

    Comment by The Nicker — December 23, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  51. Hey cjett, I tried not to critisize. I guess I failed. Sorry CC11! I know we’re very close on thoughts.
    On the discussion front, I don’t know if we’re talking real or fantasy baseball here. I think if Wilson were to pitch for the Giants at AT&T he’d probably beat Sanchez’ numbers. But in fantasy I believe Sanchez beat him in era, whip and k’s. I think Sanchez will outdo him this year as well. In fantasy that is!!!

    Comment by Chicago Mark — December 23, 2010 @ 9:59 am

  52. “he seems like a flake”

    Well that’s the hard-hitting evidence we were all looking for to settle this one.

    Comment by Jason B — December 23, 2010 @ 10:35 am

  53. And have you seen those strike zones? They are from shoulder to ankles sometimes, and as wide as a Maddux.

    Comment by Jason B — December 23, 2010 @ 10:36 am

  54. Because if the strike zones weren’t as big as Texas, little league games would last for a fortnight apiece, give or take a day.

    Comment by Jason B — December 23, 2010 @ 10:37 am

  55. If that happened, Jonathan Sanchez just might turn back into Oliver Perez.

    Comment by Scout Finch — December 23, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  56. Sounds like the difference between accuracy and precision.

    Comment by Casadilla — December 23, 2010 @ 11:01 am

  57. I could see the Giants declining.

    Comment by Jason B — December 23, 2010 @ 11:10 am

  58. Oh, please, not the he-was-better-in-the-second-half argument.

    Comment by GiantHusker — December 23, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  59. Oh, please, not the he-was-better-in-the-second-half-and-even-more-better-in-the-third-third argument again.

    Comment by GiantHusker — December 23, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  60. Did you just make a “winning games” argument? Uh oh.

    Comment by Andrew — December 23, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

  61. “Did you take a look-see at Sanchez’s 1st & 2nd half splits ? Take a further gander at his Sept/Oct. ”

    Did you look take a look at that game against the Phillies? Unless something magically clicks, Sanchez will be the type of pitcher who can dazzle you one night, and frighten you the next. He has a knack for making you think he’s turned the corner, then throwing 105 pitches in 4 innings.

    Comment by Matt — December 23, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

  62. I was a bit upset Joe didn’t address that aspect as well. I noticed a complete lack of flakiness/start ratio and weighted grumpy morning average.

    Comment by Matt — December 23, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  63. Not calling you a liar or saying you’re wrong, but I follow the Giants pretty closely and I’ve never heard an insider (at least one who I trust) talk about his small hands. Who says this?

    Comment by Matt — December 23, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  64. @DrB: Each year is too small of a sample. Saying that four small samples make a trend is not supportable by the data. The margin of error for each data point for ‘true talent level’ of any skill would overlap. No pitcher is going to sustain a .264 BABIP. A lot of Phillies’ fans tried to make the same argument about Cole Hamels a few years ago after his BABIP decreased from .300 to .289 to .270. The next season it shot up to .325, which was likely inflated due to bad luck. The nature of baseball and pitching creates a lot of variables that make ‘trends’ and ‘streaks’ highly questionable.

    @Opisgod: If you are saying his BABIP was lower last year because the cosmos are making up for it being above average earlier in his career, then no it does not happen and you are falling for the gamblers fallacy. Hypothetically I could flip a coin in four sets of four and get the following results: HHHH, HTHH, THHH, and HTHT. This doesn’t mean that the odds of getting a tail are suddenly greater in the next set of flips.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — December 23, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

  65. i gotta jump on board with the people wondering how much you can really ding a pitcher for not having juan uribe playing behind him any more

    Comment by wily mo — December 23, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

  66. I would assume that the change from Uribe to Tejada would only result in a single pitcher giving up two or three more runs over a season (12-13 run difference between the two per 150 games/30 games started=2.4-2.6 additional runs). I guess you could argue the difference between the two might be closer to 20 runs, but even that scenario only adds about 5 additional runs.

    So all in all, we’re talking about something like a .1-.2 increase in ERA due to the switch, right? Not insignificant, but nothing major either.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — December 23, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

  67. Actually, there’s reason to believe that GB/FB ratio does affect HR/FB rates. Groundball pitchers seem to allow a higher percentage of flyballs to become home runs. The difference isn’t huge, but it does appear to be there. That is with measuring all pitchers as a whole, so it’s just a trend. It doesn’t mean that it would necessarily be true for all pitchers, but generally speaking, the higher a pitcher’s GB/FB ratio, the more likely he would be to give up a higher HR/FB rate.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — December 23, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

  68. That would be a liberal estimate. A more conservative one would be about a twentieth of a run per game, or .05 difference in runs per 9. A change that small would be swamped by noise, random occurrence, and changes in pitcher performance. It ends up being almost meaningless in the context of the discussion.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — December 23, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

  69. I coach HS, JH, and travel ball pitchers. I wouldn’t claim to coach college or pro pitchers, but we stay in contact and they always tell me what their coach’s say, especially if it something they were already taught.

    What I said was control and command will mean different things at different levels.

    Orel Hershieser gives the best description of command (IMO), when he talks about throwing the same pitch type at 4 different speeds depending on time of the game, quality of batter, time through the order, etc. That definition of command is inappropriate for essentially any other level of pitcher.

    I think we are saying the same thing.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — December 23, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

  70. Sanchez had an avg. fastball of 90.6 last year, Wilson was at 90.5. They have the same fastball, dude.

    Comment by Nick — December 23, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

  71. Oh, I know… but one was a reliever the year before(that’s why his fastball dropped.) It’ll probably go back up next year. Could be wrong, but he’s changed his approach obviously having to pitch far more innings. And the wins argument wouldn’t matter, but they still count for something. Obviously, you’d rather have King Felix and his 13 wins cause of his dominance, but when you’re looking at pitchers who numbers are pretty freaking close, you take everything into consideration. Meaning innings pitched, wins, which league they play in, spot in the rotation, etc…

    Comment by Kyle — December 24, 2010 @ 1:32 am

  72. No. Wins are entirely inconsequential.

    Comment by Nick — December 24, 2010 @ 1:50 am

  73. You’re right.

    Comment by DavidCEisen — December 24, 2010 @ 10:48 am

  74. Krukow has stated this on several occasions during game broadcasts. McCarver mentioned it in his WS game 3 broadcast as well:

    Comment by fergie348 — December 25, 2010 @ 2:15 am

  75. who are these high-ceiling arms that will step up in the next 12 months???

    there are none..

    Wheeler is at least 2 years away probably 3…and that’s it..unless you’re counting Runzler as a starter?? and i wouldn’t call him a high-ceiling starter at this point…

    Comment by SFG fan — December 27, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

  76. something different happened around mid-August for Sanchez. i could have sworn Krukow said he came up with a new pitch or something(cutter?) on one of the postgame shows. or maybe a new grip on one of his pitches. his last 7 starts were dynamite as was the Braves game in the playoffs. no doubt the Phillies fans and Utley got to him though.

    btw he also had an outstanding April 2010, (as did most SFG starting pitchers), so there is evidence that Sanchez can get in the zone for 5-6 starts in a row now.

    Comment by SFG fan — December 27, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

  77. who are you thinking of in the giant’s system, that would be ready to start in the next yr? I don’t think they have many good pitching prospects at all, certainly not at the higher levels.

    Comment by brendan — December 29, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

  78. The way I think of it is control deals more with the umpire…balls/strikes. Command deals more with the hitter.

    Control paints the black, command puts a cut fastball just enough off the plate to get a swing–a swing that won’t do much damage even if there’s contact.

    At 3-2, control will avoid a walk. With bases loaded and one out, command will get a hitter to roll over into a DP(even though he knows that’s what you’re trying to do).

    I’m curious if pitchers can have command without control??

    Comment by Jimbo — March 7, 2011 @ 5:09 am

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