Deep league advice -- The gift of Gaby

Jim McIsaac

Gaby Sánchez was terrible with Miami last year. But there is more to him than a couple months in 2012.

A few weeks ago, when writing about B.J. Upton, I noted that, when a .300 hitter slumps, he slides to a .280 average and everything is hunky-dory, whereas when a .230 hitter slumps, he falls to .200 and we think he's done.

The corollary (Word of the Day calendar FTW!) to this idea is that, when a star has an off-year, he becomes a slightly above-average player, and he still give you value; meanwhile, when a slightly above-average player has an off-year, he hits like Rafael Belliard and we give up on him.

In full-time play in 2010 and 2011, Gaby Sánchez was a decent player. He finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in '10, made the All-Star team in '11. He hit 38 homers in the two years combined, maintained an OPS over .770, and missed very little time. He wasn't an upper-echelon first baseman, and the vast majority of his value came against lefties, but he was my corner infielder/bench guy both of those years, and in a deeper league, he was a totally viable option.

Then he came out for the start of 2012, and he might as well have been Jeff Francoeur - his OPS fell more than 200 points in his time with the Marlins, and his K:BB ratio fell from 1.3 in 2011 to 3.0 in the first half of 2012. The fantasy world forgot about him, the Marlins dealt him to a platoon role in Pittsburgh, and everyone moved on.

And then, like Michael Myers in all thousand Halloween movies, after being left for dead, Sánchez came back to life. No, he wasn't (and isn't) a superstar, but he was back to being his regular "corner infielder/bench guy" self - a .720 OPS, K:BB back to 1.53, his AB:HR back to career norms from the awful 65.3 in the first half of 2012. I don't know what happened to him - injury, normal slump, hatred of Miami - but whatever it was appeared to have disappeared with the move to the Pirates.

This year, he's been even better. No, he still can't really hit righties, but his OPS is up to .834 in 140 plate appearances, his OBP, SLG, and AB:HR are at career highs, and he's doing all this with a BABIP (and .279) that is below his career average.

A first baseman on pace for barely double-digit home runs and 50-some RBI is not a stud by any means. But he's only owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues. Feel free to click right past Gaby Sánchez in in ten-team leagues, as his inability to hit righties for any great numbers means he'll be blocked by Garrett Jones and Travis Snider a lot of the time. But if you're in a deep league, or an NL-only league, and you can afford a guy who you use primarily when lefties are starting, Sánchez has his value.

Don't let a bad first half of 2012 form your entire judgment of a player. He's not great, but he's still a guy worth a look.

Follow me on Twitter @danieltkelley

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