Nobody would’ve predicted that Adrian Sanchez would be such a dangerous hitter for the Washington Nationals this September, but here we are.
With the Washington Nationals completely out of contention in the month of September, several players have had a chance to impress. Surprisingly, nobody has grasped the opportunity of playing time more so than infielder Adrian Sanchez.
In small parts of two seasons, Sanchez was generally regarded as a light-hitting bench player at best. But this fall, he’s been scalding the ball at the plate and looks like a completely different player than before.
Ever since rosters expanded, Sanchez is hitting .310 in just 29 ABs, and is slowly earning more playing time. He’s made 10 appearances in the last 20 days, as Davey Martinez has clearly noticed his impressive play.
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At first glance, it would be reasonable to assume that this kind of pace is unsustainable for Sanchez based on what we have previously seen. And while a BABIP of .360 would also appear to back that notion, there is cause for optimism around his performance.
Some of Statcast’s advanced metrics actually suggest that what he’s done so far could be underperformance. For one, he’s hitting the ball pretty hard, with an average exit velocity of 88 mph, which puts him in the top 42% of hitters in the majors during September.
This exit velocity, combined with launch angle results in Sanchez having an expected batting average of .320 this month, 10 points higher than he actually has. Even more surprising, is that this is the joint-highest xBA on Nats alongside Anthony Rendon, who you probably already know is one of the hottest hitters on the plant this September.
You could even take it a step further and take a look expected weighted on-base average, or xwOBA for those who love acronyms. It works in a similar way to xBA, but also takes into account extra-base hits, so it’s a nice gauge of the damage a player should be doing at the plate.
Sanchez once again excels in this category with an xwOBA of .398, which ranks third on the Nats behind only Rendon and Bryce Harper in September. A remarkable stat for a player who only appears to be getting his chance due to the way this disappointing season has played out.
Will this hot-streak in September lead to increased playing time in 2019? It’s unlikely given Wilmer Difo has the higher upside and Howie Kendrick is the steady, proven veteran presence. However, with options remaining on his deal, he is making sure he’ll stick around and be some very good organizational depth should he continue this positive trend in the minor leagues next year.
Adrian Sanchez has been one of the bigger surprises for the Washington Nationals since his call-up. It will be interesting to see if this continues in the last few games and beyond