Anibal Sanchez Moves to the AL

Yesterday, Anibal Sanchez was traded to the Detroit Tigers. It was a bold move by the Tigers to help them make the playoffs. Today, I am going to look at a few changes that can be expected from him because of his new surroundings and any chance for regression (good or bad).

What has changed:

League: While I believe the AL and NL are close in overall talent. In the NL, Sanchez would have 2 AB vs a pitcher vice a DH therefore making the AL a bit tougher.

Defense: It is fairly close to a wash between Detroit and Miami with Detroit’s defense being a bit worse. Detroit currently has a team UZR of -23.5 and Miami has one of -15.4.

Home Park: For his home games, he will be playing in Comerica Park which currently has a park factor (PF) of 102 for runs scored (2% more runs are scored there than the average park). Marlins Park PF stands at 100 so far this season. Not a huge change.

Competition: He will mainly face teams from the AL Central, so there is some possible relief. One key note: All of the last 12 games of Detroit’s season will be against the flailing Royals and Twins. Sanchez, and all Detroit pitchers, may be very useful in the final playoff rounds in head-to-head leagues. Detroit will be pushing for the playoffs and KC and Minnesota will have call ups on their teams.

Taking all the changes into account, Sanchez will likely have a rougher time pitching in Detroit.

Now time to look for areas of improvement and downgrade in his talent. The only real item that stands out for a change is his ERA being about a half run higher than his ERA predictors:

ERA: 3.94
FIP: 3.41
xFIP: 3.51
SIERA: 3.56

Looking at his stats, the problem doesn’t seem to originate with batters getting some lucky hits (0.315 BABIP with no runners, 0.299 with runners on). Instead, Sanchez seems to lose control of the strike zone with his K/BB going from 4.9 with no runners on to 2.0 with runners on. Historically, his values were at 2.4 for no runners and 2.0 with runners, so he is pitching the same with runners on, but dominating with no runners.

Taking both change in teams and regression into account, I would would expect to see his overall stats decline a bit. To get an idea of the pitchers he should be comparable to in the AL, I assumed that the leagues were even in talent and applied the league differences in ERA (+0.10 in AL), K/9 (-0.4 in AL) and BB/9 (no change) to Sanchez.

I project him to have a 3.80 ERA going forward with around a 7.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9

Some comparable pitchers are:

Name: ERA, K/9, BB/9
Colby Lewis: 3.43, 8.0, 1.2
Jason Hammel: 3.54, 8.7, 3.2
Phil Hughes: 4.09, 8.0, 2.2
Ivan Nova: 4.10, 8.0, 2.6

His value in fantasy leagues that allow players from both leagues, will take a hit. Sanchez will be a decent pitcher in the AL. In AL-only leagues, he looks to be comparable to Hughes and Nova. Not bad, but not great either.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


8 Responses to “Anibal Sanchez Moves to the AL”

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  1. 96mnc says:

    Why are you saying his value is going to take a hit if he has a 3.94 ERA and 8.18 k/9 to date this year? The numbers you’re projecting are basically the same.

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  2. StFriebe says:

    I know this is a stupid thing to get frustrated by, but it drives me NUTS when people talking about the “flailing Twins”. Today they are 16th in runs scored, bottom four in K%, and 12th in BB%. Not the ’27 Yankees (or the 2012 Rangers), but by no measure “flailing”. The Twins are terrible because their pitching is abyssmal, not because they don’t score.

    Obviously not a big deal, but, in the eyes of this reader anyway, your analysis is compromised when you use bogus shortcuts like that.

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    • illinibob says:

      I can tell you this. I wish the Astros could field an everyday lineup like the Twins. Span, Revere, Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, Plouffe, Doumit,….that’s the real deal.. If they ever got some pitching……

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    • nolan says:

      This. The Twins have an above-average lineup, particularly against right-handed pitching. A lot of their 2012 offensive numbers are suppressed by their awful April and May.

      What will depress Sanchez’s value more than anything is the Detroit schedule. Detroit has a brutal stretch coming up. They will be facing the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rangers, and Angels. Sanchez’s next favorable matchup could be Kansas City in late August.

      At this point, I don’t think Sanchez is really worth owning in 12-team mixed leagues despite what his ownership rates are at. He’s worth a stream against KC and maybe BAL though.

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    • chris says:

      “flailing” need not refer to a team that cannot hit, since this review is primarily from a fantasy perspective. If the Twins and Royals cannot pitch, Sanchez would still stand a good chance at a W

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  3. tyler says:

    Just an FYI, the 100 Park Factor for the new park in Miami is a placeholder number. parkfactors.com waits until they get a full season’s worth of data

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