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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.