With a 35-28 record, the Miami Marlins are off to their best start to a season since 2004. Instead of fading out of the playoff race, the Marlins are currently riding their longest winning streak so far (six in a row entering Friday) thanks to an improving offense.
While Luis Arraez gets most of the headlines, Jesús Sánchez has been another big part of Miami’s success. Since coming off the injured list on May 30, he is slashing .345/.406/.655/1.062 with three home runs (most on the Marlins during that period).
Sánchez has had a rollercoaster of a career with the Marlins since they acquired him from the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019. In a brief cup of coffee with the big league team in 2020, Sánchez struggled and didn’t get anything going. In 2021, we saw exactly what we wanted out of Sánchez (.251/.319/.489, 14 HR in 64 G). In 2022, though, he once again struggled and was even sent down to Triple-A.
Expectations were low entering 2023. Sánchez barely played during the first month of the season and he wasn’t hitting for power in his limited opportunities. He looked more like a DFA candidate than a building block. That has fully turned around—now, his .958 OPS is even higher than Arraez’s.
This is Sánchez’s first year working with hitting coach Brant Brown and the rest of the new Marlins coaching staff.
“Mentally, he has helped me to maintain my approach,” said Sanchez in Spanish. “From time to time, I tend to change or adjust my approach and he tells me to remember my strong points. He is always on top of me and I can’t thank him enough for it.”
Sánchez is also getting help from a familiar face. He’s been playing alongside fellow Dominican outfielder Bryan De La Cruz since 2021 and benefiting from his friendship.
“For me, it is like playing in the Dominican Republic,” said Sánchez. “We just have fun. He is a great teammate and an excellent person.”
The lefty-hitting Sánchez takes pride in how he’s using the opposite field more consistently this season. According to Baseball Savant, 36.2% of his batted balls are going the opposite way, the highest rate of his career (MLB average is 25.4%).
As Sánchez explains it, his mindset as a hitter is “just hit a lot of doubles.” Against the Arizona Diamondbacks last month, he had five of those in a single series.
As valuable as Sánchez has been, the Marlins also have a winning record in games he doesn’t play. The talent around him in the clubhouse has clearly improved and the vibes around the team are a lot better.
“We have people who want to help us,” said Sánchez. “Help amongst us, the players. That is what has helped us a lot.”
Sánchez is not listed on the MLB All-Star ballot (the Marlins outfielders on there are De La Cruz, Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jorge Soler). It’ll be a challenge for him to even make it as a reserve due to a lack of playing time, but little by little, he’s making a case for himself and getting recognition from the rest of the baseball world.
Featured image by Danis Sosa/Fish On First