Why Anibal Sanchez Is Struggling in 2015

Anibal Sanchez is struggling with his command, and it could be the reason for his decreased groundball rate.

Aníbal Sanchez is having a rough 2015 campaign so far, and it doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

Sanchez looks to be having one of his worst seasons and is struggling in preventing home runs. As of now, his home run per nine innings (HR/9) mark is 1.64, and his home run per fly ball percentage (HR/FB) is 15.1%. The 2015 league averages for HR/9 and and HR/FB are .96 and 10.7%.

His worst year prior to this season was in 2008 when his HR/9 was 1.22 and his HR/FB was 14%.

The following pitch heat map displays the pitches in which he surrendered home runs.

Click here for larger chart

He's obviously left quite a few pitches up in the zone, and hitters have capitalized on his mistakes.

As of now, Sanchez is on pace to surpass his single season home run total (20) surrendered to opposing hitters. He has allowed 11 after just 10 starts.

There are a lot of similarities between Sanchez’s 2008 and 2015 seasons, and it looks like his struggles are more than just bad luck. The small sample size of 2008 works in favor of the current analysis due to the current sample size thus far in 2015.


Aside from the significant HR/9 and HR/FB disparities, a number that stands out right now is his below league average left on base percentage (LOB%). The current league average is 72.7%, and he is well below that at the moment. Hopefully, he should see some regression throughout the rest of the season.

Another huge difference between 2008 and 2015 is that his current ground ball percentage (GB%) is well below his career average, and the current league average of 45.4%.

Career 20082015
GB %44.3%40.3%34.9%

Pitching heat maps for 2008 and 2015 show his struggle with command in comparison to his career year in 2013 .

Here's his 2015 map.

Click here for larger chart

Compare that to his 2013 map.

Click here for larger chart

It’s evident that his command was exceptional in 2013 because he was able to keep the ball down consistently.

For 2008 and 2015, his command is definitely lacking, and it’s reflected in his peripherals.

Sanchez should expect regression in his HR/9, HR/FB, and LOB%, but his command is going to need to improve greatly in order to prevent the longball the rest of the season.