Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Warped Perceptions of Jonathan Sanchez

Jonathan Sanchez is a polarizing character.

His pitching performances are polarizing, switching back and forth from excellent to completely disastrous. His stat line is polarizing with a tantalizing strikeout rate matched with a horrible walk rate. His perception among fans is polarizing with some who cling to the promise of him one day figuring out how to get his walks to an acceptable level and others who have seen one too many three inning melt downs.

This tendency to live on the extremes has warped the perceptions of many for Jonathan Sanchez.

When things were going pretty good last season, Sanchez was the third ace of the staff when in reality, he probably wasn't worthy of that lofty distinction. This season, as things fall apart, people are ready to move on and never have him throw another pitch for the Giants. This is the response of a spoiled fan base.

When you compare Sanchez to the other Giants pitchers, he is in a different talent and consistency tier from Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Over the last two seasons, these guys have FIP in the low three range, with Sanchez coming in a full run higher. This year, he looks to have been passed by the resurgent Ryan Vogelsong, making him the "fifth" starter.

That is a luxury that most teams would kill for, a guy with the raw talent to win a Cy Young Award and the stats of a number three starter penciled in as the teams fifth starter.

Sure, Sanchez has warts and isn't in the same class as the Giants other top line pitchers, but my God, this isn't someone you just give up on because he makes you frustrated for a few games in a row. Sanchez gives the team a chance to the win more often than not, with the chance every time out that he can do something really special.

If you accept him for what he is, a talented but flawed pitcher who is good more often than he is bad you will be a lot more happy with the polarizing lefty.

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