Anibal Sanchez shuts down Marlins, wins AL ERA crown

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In what was otherwise a meaningless tuneup for the Tigers, Anibal Sanchez entered Saturday’s start against the Marlins with the slightest of all leads for the AL ERA crown: 2.64 to Bartolo Colon’s 2.65 mark. The margin is a little wider now: Sanchez threw five scoreless innings and struck out eight in a brisk 66-pitch start, lowering his ERA to 2.57.

Since neither Colon nor Hisashi Iwakuma, who is at 2.66, will pitch again, Sanchez’s ERA crown is assured. He also topped 200 strikeouts on the night to finish with 202 in 182 innings for the season. Unfortunately, the Tigers blew the one-run lead they had when Sanchez exited tonight, denying him his 15th win to go along with eight losses.

That’s still quite a year for a guy who entered with a lifetime 48-51 record and a 3.75 ERA in seven seasons, 6 1/2 of them with the Marlins. After being acquired from Miami at the 2012 trade deadline, he re-signed with the Tigers for $80 million over five years last winter, spurning the Cubs in the process.

Even with the ERA title, Sanchez may not start until the third game of the postseason for the Tigers. Still, the team should be feeling pretty good about him, particularly after he posted a 1.77 ERA in three October starts last year.

Must-Click Link: Sherri Nichols, Sabermetic Pioneer

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If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.

While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.

The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.

A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.

A great read and a great history lesson.