I find the best time to look back at how a decision is paying off is directly after something really good or really bad has happened. Today, for instance, is a great time to check in with Anibal Sanchez and to draw a sweeping conclusion.
Over the offseason, he signed a five-year contract with the Tigers worth about $80 million. Already this year he's set the Tigers' franchise-record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 17. Friday he came within two outs of pitching a no-hitter and looked dominating for most of that game. He improved to 5-4 on the year (three of those were of the tough-luck variety) with a 2.38 ERA. He leads all of baseball with a 1.75 FIP.
Welp, the signing looks pretty good to me!
Some writers might institute the twist here, pulling the rug out and saying "but let's go a little deeper." (Pretty sure I've described the pattern of every column I write now that I think of it.) But there is no twist here.
Since fixing a blip in his mechanics last August, Sanchez is thriving in Detroit. Any fears about how his stuff would translate to the AL -- some fears always exist when a player leaves the NL -- should be put to rest now. His strikeout figures have gone up in Detroit. His walk rate has remained steady. He has used that to thrive in front of a Tigers defense that isn't quite as capable as ... well, many other defenses. His batting average on balls in play this season is actually .327, which is more than 20 points worse than his career average.
Can Sanchez keep it up? Well, given everything I've just written, it's hard to answer anything but "sure." Of course, numbers so stellar do invite the likelihood he'll take a step or two back. It's just hard to see anything that flashes a warning sign.
GM Dave Dombrowski's decision to trade for Sanchez and Omar Infante last summer helped put two of the final key pieces onto the roster, getting Detroit to the World Series. Keeping Sanchez in Detroit after that has paid dividends already -- and will likely continue to do so for seasons to come.
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