Thinking About Anibal Sanchez
Anibal Sanchez's no hitter against Arizona this week gets him in the record books, alongside guys like Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, and Nolan Ryan. . .but also guys like Mike Warren and Bud Smith. Nevertheless, if you look at a list of major league no-hitters, there are a lot of very impressive arms. There are some flukey guys, but most of these guys were solid moundsmen even if they weren't Hall of Famers.
Sanchez could blow his arm out tomorrow and drift away into history, but assuming good health I think he has a good chance to have a strong career. His numbers aren't perfect. His 2.89 ERA is fine, of course, and he's held batters to a mere .208 average. H/IP is heavily dependent on luck and fielding support as DIPS theory teaches us, and no doubt Sanchez could see reversion towards the mean next year. His batting average-against in Double-A this year was .246, so it seems that he's definitely benefited from better luck/support in the majors, no-hitter aside. His K/BB ratio of 53/39 is less than ideal, certainly. . .he could stand fewer walks and/or more strikeouts certainly. His GB/FB ratio is dead-even at .99, although his ground ball tendencies were slightly stronger in the minors. His ERA has improved even though his K/BB and K/IP component ratios deteriorated as you'd expect given the better competition.
In the big picture, what we have here is a 22 year old pitcher with a half-season of Double-A under his belt, coming to the majors and pitching better for the Marlins than he did for the Carolina Mudcats. I absolutely respect what he's done, and he is a potentially excellent young pitcher. . .but I have to conclude that luck has helped him, and unless his control improves we will see his ERA rise next year. In the long run, if he stays healthy and confident, he should be a fine pitcher. Of course, "staying healthy" and throwing more strikes would have helped a lot of young pitchers.
To finalize, Anibal Sanchez had a great game and is in the record books. He is a talented young pitcher. But he's not a sure superstar, not yet, and he's had some good luck backing him so far.