Gary Sanchez and Josh Hader are the same player. Does this sound odd? Absolutely. But is it also true? It appears that the numbers demonstrate that well.
Hader is one of the most dominant and feared end-of-game arms in today’s game. However, he also has a home run bug. Through Tuesday, Hader had allowed 13 home runs in just 55.2 innings of work. If you take just that number into account, Hader is having a similar season to Edwin Diaz, who is getting absolutely drilled. However, his WHIP and K/9 numbers are both career highs. Most of this is because Hader has allowed just 17 hits that did not leave the park.
Hader misses bats to an alarming rate. He has fanned 48.4 percent of the hitters he has faced in 2019. However, he also has an average exit velocity of 90.7 miles per hour, ranking him 38th of qualifying pitchers of at least 50 balls put in play. This puts him just ahead of Adrian Sampson, who ranks sixth in the American League with 26 home runs allowed. Sampson has also just tossed 115 innings in 2019, so the rate is very similar.
The main issue for Hader has been the four-seam fastball in 2019. His slugging percentage against has jumped from .267 in 2018 to .429 this season. He is also using it over seven percent more often, up to 86.85 percent in 2019. His slider has fallen from 20.25 percent in 2017 to just 12.69 percent this season. On the opposite side, his whiff percentage has also increased on his fastball to 25.07 percent. That is a 5.5 percent spike from 2017.
As mentioned previously, the stats display that Sanchez is a resemblance of the hitter version of this. On Wednesday, Sanchez smacked his 15th home run of at least 110 mile per hour exit velocity. Though he squares the ball up well when he gets to it, 42 of his 131 hits over the past two seasons have left the park, through Tuesday night. That is good for a 32 percent rate. If you add in his 27 doubles and one triple over the same span, that percentage goes to 53.4 percent. He has 70 extra base hits and just 61 singles. Sanchez leads all catchers with 26 home runs in just 82 games in 2019. This means he is hitting a home run once in every three games.
That sounds great, right? Here is the issue. In the same amount of hits for the whole 2017 season, 131, Sanchez had a 25.2 percent home run rate, but he also had a much higher OBP of .345. His WAR that season was also twice as high as this season. Some might argue that Sanchez is in a slump. That is possible, but he has only once hit .286 for one month and no other month over .260 in the past two seasons.
Sanchez has an average exit velocity on balls in play of 91.9 in 2019. He also ranks second in barrels per plate appearance with 12.2 percent. When Sanchez contacts the ball, it flies. However, the main issue is that he has a 27.5 percent strikeout rate in 2019 and he has walked just 26 times in 345 plate appearances.
Regardless, both players have rode the same methodology on opposite sides to success. Both were all-stars in 2019. It just shows where the game has come. Missed bats and home runs are valued, they are just valued in different quantities for pitchers and hitters.