San Francisco Giants: 7 Reasons Freddy Sanchez's Injury Is the Most Devastating

Barrett HansenAnalyst IIJuly 1, 2011

San Francisco Giants: 7 Reasons Freddy Sanchez's Injury Is the Most Devastating

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    Freddy Sanchez was the last person the San Francisco Giants wanted to hit the disabled list.

    After losing their star catcher for the year, the Giants found some life with the hot bat of Freddy Sanchez. 

    As if out of a Greek tragedy, right when the team looked like it could still succeed despite the adversity, Sanchez injures his shoulder making a diving stop.

    Here are seven reasons Freddy Sanchez's injury is the most devastating yet.

7. Best Defensive Infielder

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    Freddy Sanchez is of the opinion that a clean jersey after the game means you weren't playing hard enough.

    Sanchez has exceptional range in the field, and regularly makes the most difficult of plays look routine.

    He also makes accurate throws on ground balls and as a cutoff man.

    The Giants feature a very strong defensive outfield, but have some holes in the infield. Rookie Brandon Crawford has certainly has plugged a hole at shortstop, but Miguel Tejada, Bill Hall and Manny Burriss tend to be liabilities.

    Second base was once a position of defensive strength for the Giants. Without Sanchez it has become a weakness.

6. Does the Little Things Right

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    His commitment to helping the team win makes Freddy Sanchez more valuable than his statistics suggest.

    He can swing the bat as well as anybody on the team, but his best attribute is his situational hitting.

    Sanchez can lay down a good bunt, or score a runner with a sacrifice fly. With a runner on second, he always looks take an outside pitch to the opposite field to advance the runner. 

    The scrappy second baseman has an excellent 11.4 career strikeout rate, almost six percentage points better than the league average. His ability to put the ball in play at such a high rate makes him a very valuable top-of-the-order hitter.

    Sanchez also makes skilled plays in the field, like picking this low throw from Buster Posey and tagging out a sliding Josh Hamilton. He put himself in the exact right position to field the throw and apply the tag.

    Freddy Sanchez is a savvy baseball player who knows the intricacies of the game and regularly makes intelligent plays that are often overlooked.

5. Clutch Hitter

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    There's a reason AT&T Park erupts into chants of "Freddy! Freddy!" every time Sanchez comes to the plate in late-game situations.

    Throughout the 2010 postseason, Freddy Sanchez came up with big hit after big hit to propel the Giants to the World Series.

    He picked up this year right where he left off, getting base hits when they counted, including his June 6th walk-off single to end the 13-inning marathon against the Nationals

    As an offensively challenged squad, the Giants rely on timely hitting in close games. They will miss a veteran like Sachez who can come through in the clutch.

4. Leads by Example

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    Nobody works harder than Freddy Sanchez.

    He is committed on each and every play, whether he's diving for a shot toward the hole or backing up a throw to second base. 

    Even if the Giants could replace their star second baseman's statistical production, they could never find somebody with all his intangibles.

    Every GM wants players who lead by example in his team's clubhouse. A guy like Freddy Sanchez brings his whole team to a higher level. 

    Losing Sanchez also means losing his energy and enthusiasm on a day-to-day basis.

3. He Was Just Getting Hot

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    Freddy Sanchez has been a terrific acquisition for the San Francisco Giants so far. But he can still play better.

    The former NL batting champ hit .292/.342/.397 last season with 22 doubles. Although those are great numbers, Sanchez has put up more than 40 doubles twice in his career.

    He had 15 through 239 at-bats this year, putting him on pace for 37.

    Sanchez struggled early, hitting .259 on May 14th. A month later his average had jumped to .289 and looked like it would keep climbing.

    Seeing a player hit the DL is never good. But it really stung that Sanchez was just hitting a groove, and looked primed to have his best season yet in a Giants uniform.

2. Production Now Versus Expected Production

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    While the Buster Posey injury certainly hurt, it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

    Posey was playing well, but his offense could have been better—his average was down 20 points from last year, and he was getting way fewer extra-base-hits.

    It is terrible the Giants never will experience Posey getting hot, but they were in first place even without his expected offensive production.

    Sanchez, on the other hand, was the Giants only consistent offensive player when he went down. He left a bigger instant void, since he was accounting for most of the Giants offense before his injury.

1. Cumulative Damage

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    When Buster Posey hit the DL, Freddy Sanchez elevated his game, and shouldered the offensive load.

    As a result, losing Sanchez is doubly painful—beside missing out on all of Sanchez's production, the Giants lost the emotional leader who brought the team back from the catastrophic Posey injury.

    Championship teams have to overcome adversity, and that's what the San Francisco Giants did when they lost their star catcher.

    The problem is they also lost the catalyst for their resurgence. That forces the team to overcome a loss of a key player for the second time, a doubly tall order.

    San Francisco appears to be doing just fine even without Sanchez—great pitching will keep even the worst offensive teams relevant.

    But you have to wonder how long the Giants can keep it up. If they start to flag, unable to come up with the big hit late in games, it'll be the Sanchez injury we'll look to.