Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/17/14
In his three full seasons as a Major League starter, Anibal Sanchez has slowly taken strides toward being a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Last year he increased his K:BB ratio for the second straight season while increasing the amount of ground balls he induced. His pitch selection shows his evolution away from being a power pitcher as last year he decreased his four-seamer usage in favor of his change-up and curveball. That coincides with what we saw on the field with his rise in ground ball rate, but Sanchez also posted a career-worst 21.5% line drive rate. That’s going to have to be better. But while Sanchez is improving with all his peripherals, he still needs to put up that break out season that propels him toward fantasy anchorhood (yes, I made that word up). Unfortunately for Sanchez, he still hasn’t proven that he can win games as last year’s 9-13 record for an 88-win Tigers team reminded us yet again. Fresh off a big contract, all Sanchez has left to do now is deliver. At a Glance Strengths: W, K, QS Neutral: L, ERA, WHIP, K/9, BB Weaknesses: none Player Comparisons Best-case scenario: Mat Latos (CIN) Likely scenario: Josh Johnson (MIA), Ryan Dempster (BOS), Jonathon Niese (NYM) Worst-case scenario: Tommy Hanson (OAK) Anibal Sanchez 2013 Fantasy Projection Sanchez’s strengths are only borderline. I honestly considered listing everything as “neutral,” but if he takes the next step and turns those above average overall stats into some more wins for a good Detroit team, then he’ll become regarded as a durable, 200-inning starter who can pick up a win in any given outing. As for the Ks, I dont’t think we’ll be seeing a return of Sanchez’s 200-K days. He’s going away from the fastball and looking to induce more grounders, and that tends to signal the end of the high-strikeout days. I do think he’ll improve with the strikeout total overall due  to an increased workload and a slightly better strikeout rate, but he’s probably a 180-strikeout pitcher these days. If you’re an aggressive drafter and enjoy taking risks in your draft — shallow leaguers, take notice —  then Sanchez is a good player to go after. The publicity his contract drew might inflate his value slightly, but probably not much. He’s a reliable innings eater at worst, and at best he could be a 15-game winner who you can count on almost every time he takes the mound. Tweet
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