2023 Marlins Season Review: Jesús Sánchez

Jesus Sanchez was an above-average big league hitter all year long in 2023, and will look to build on that the following season, perhaps even earn his first All-Star appearance.

Relive all of the ups and downs of the 2023 Miami Marlins with our Fish On First Season Review, containing detailed articles about a wide variety of players. The FOF staff analyzes the individual impact that each of them had and what it means for their future with the organization.

This installment focuses on outfielder Jesús Sánchez.

2023 Timeline

  • May 14—placed on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain
  • May 26—sent to Triple-A Jacksonville for a rehab assignment
  • May 30—activated from the 10-day injured list and remained on the active roster the rest of the way
  • July 26—left game at Tampa Bay with neck discomfort, able to avoid the IL

Season stats: 125 games played, 402 PA, .253/.327/.450/.777, 108 OPS+, 109 wRC+, 1.3 fWAR (age-25 season)

Sánchez has arguably the most offensive upside in the Marlins organization. After a rough 2022 season that included a demotion to the minors, the outfielder needed to re-earn a starting job going into spring training. Outfielders Jazz Chisholm Jr., Bryan De La Cruz, and Avisaíl García were all locks to be on the Opening Day roster.

After a successful spring in which he slashed .302/.333./.419, Sánchez was utilized in a bench role for the first month of the season, only starting eight of the team’s first 24 games . As perhaps may be expected when a young hitter doesn’t get many at-bats, Sánchez struggled during that period (.172/.333/.241 with a 30.6 K%).

Sánchez wasn’t the only outfielder who struggled early on: García’s numbers were similarly discouraging. Once García suffered a back injury at the end of April, manager Skip Schumaker turned to the young lefty to start in right field for the rest of the campaign (Sánchez would occasionally sit against certain left-handed pitchers).

From May 1 until the end of the regular season (104 games), Sánchez provided well above-average production at the plate. He slashed .256/.324/.462, good for a .786 OPS. As evidenced by his sub-par strikeout percentage, Sánchez has struggled to put balls in play during his young Major League career, and 2023 was no different. With a 26.6 K%, Sánchez ranked in the 23rd percentile among qualified big leaguers, according to Baseball Savant. He also ranked in the 22nd percentile in whiff% and 30th percentile in chase%.

However, he more than compensated for that with impressive, strong contact whenever he did hit the ball, as he ranked in the 70th percentile in average exit velocity, 79th in barrel%, and 77th in hard-hit%.

An issue for Sánchez heading into 2023 was his inability to turn on fastballs, particularly up and in. He improved in that facet of his game, increasing his batting average against fastballs by 51 points, from .240 to .291. He provided a plus-11 run value against four-seamers, far and away his best for any pitch type. Unfortunately, that was partially offset by significantly worse numbers vs. off-speed pitches (batted .243 vs. offspeed in 2022, but only .192 in 2023).

Despite the immense raw power Sánchez possesses, it doesn’t always translate to large home run numbers. For example, from July 19-September 1, Sánchez didn’t hit a single home run (103 PA). He still slugged close to .400 in that span with an OPS north of .730, which shows he’s still a valuable asset in the lineup while not clearing the fence. Regardless, if Sánchez is going to be an everyday big leaguer, he’ll have to avoid those types of power droughts.

Something that also continued to be an issue for Sánchez were his platoon splits. He carried an .808 OPS against right-handed pitching and a .564 OPS against lefties. Towards the end of last season, Schumaker would very rarely let him take an AB against a southpaw.

Sánchez improved his baserunning. After committing six outs on the bases in 2022, there were none from him this past season. He even recorded three stolen bases after entering the year with only one in his Marlins career.

Sánchez has one of the strongest outfield arms in baseball. His hardest throw was 95.9 mph on July 2. He ranked in the 88th percentile in arm strength across baseball, according to Baseball Savant. While not quite Roberto Clemente in right field, he still provided above average defense as he finished 2023 with 5 DRS (defensive runs saved), ahead of renowned defensive outfielders like Mookie Betts and Jason Heyward.


Future with the Marlins

Sánchez will report to spring training as the starting right fielder in 2024. He is not arbitration eligible until 2025, so he will make close to the league minimum next season. While his 2023 numbers more resembled his 2021 breakout campaign, I expect an even bigger season from Sánchez next year. I believe he has All-Star potential.

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