As we near the start of the season, it’s looking more and more like noted hacker, Hector Sanchez, might not be ready to play baseball.
From John Shea’s twitter:
Hector Sanchez (shoulder) shut down til Tuesday, after which he could get extra swings in minor-league games. #SFGiants
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) March 15, 2013
Sanchez has been dealing with shoulder soreness for most of the spring. He’s also had some calf issues. Despite the injuries, Sanchez has taken 19 at-bats for the Giants this spring, ranking him third on the roster behind Buster Posey (21) and Jackson Williams (21) for playing time among catchers. Coming into the spring, Sanchez was expected to be the backup catcher to Buster Posey. Now with the mounting injuries, that looks doubtful.
If the Giants decide to stay in-house for a Sanchez replacement, they’ll probably look in the direction of 31-year-old non-roster invitee, Guillermo Quiroz.
A couple of things about Quiroz.
- He was once considered a prospect. Pre-2004, Baseball America rated him the 35th best prospect in baseball; pre-2005, he was the 79th best prospect.
- He’s coming off a pretty nice season in 2012 with the Mariners AAA team. In 89 games, Quiroz posted a 118 wRC+. He posted a career high walk percentage (10.4) and hit 15 home runs.
- Park factors for the minor leagues are hard to find, but it appears that Tacoma — where Quiroz played in 2012 — is mostly a neutral run-scoring park.
- He’s probably an average-ish defensive catcher. I say ‘average-ish’ because he’s barely played in the majors and the advanced defensive stats are barely relevant, but in 645 career defensive innings he rates at -6 runs by DRS. The fielding component of FanGraphs’ WAR rates him at -4.8 runs.
- The projections say: ZiPS (.223/.277/.341); Oliver (.219/.281/.346); Steamer (.238/.298/.369)
All of those points add up to the same thing: he’s a fine depth player to have on the team. And while Sanchez rates a little higher by the projections — and his upside is better — you might be a little shocked to see that the difference in their bats — ZiPS has Quiroz projected at a .270 wOBA; Sanchez at a .284 wOBA — is smaller than you might think. Their gloves also look similar, and neither would rate, even if you were being charitable, as average runners on the base paths. So while the team is slightly — microscopically, almost — worse with the Quiroz-Sanchez swap, it’s probably not that big of a deal in the long run, as long as Sanchez can regain his health and eventually return.
So for whatever reason why fans tend to overvalue what Hector Sanchez has done, you can rest a little easier knowing that his replacement — while not nearly as good — is good enough to hold down the backup catcher position for awhile. Sanchez clearly has Quiroz on upside and ‘what he could be one day’ but they’re most likely quite similar players in 2013.
Also, when Quiroz dingers, he does so with pizazz. Proof.
The best part about this GIF is the context that accompanies it. This game is from 2008. Coming into the game Quiroz was hitting .203/.266/.288 in 66 PAs. He would finish the year with an 38 wRC+ in 56 games. And yet, on that HR swing, he’s got all the style and flair of a 30-HR power hitter.