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All-Time Top 100 Marlins: #55 Brian Sanches

Sanches pitched the best three seasons of his career with the last three years of the Florida Marlins.

New York Mets v Florida Marlins Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the top 100 Marlins of all-time. For comparison’s sake, we are using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric as a measuring device. The top 100 WAR ratings are being featured. Today’s Marlin, Brian Lee Sanches, earned 3.5 over his three seasons with Florida.

Sanches, a 6’1”, 190 lb. right-handed pitcher from Beaumont, Texas. Born on August 8th, 1978, he graduated Nederland High School and played prep ball for the Lamar University Cardinals. The Kansas City Royals chose him in the second round of the 1999 amateur draft, with the 54th overall selection two picks after outfielder Carl Crawford. Also going later that round were shortstop Brandon Phillips, outfielder Ryan Ludwick, and fellow right-hander John Lackey.

Sanches spent most of eight seasons in the minors before reaching the majors, first for five seasons in the Royals system. After a late season trade in 2003, when Kansas City packaged him with Chris Tierney for Rondell White to the San Diego Padres. Just before spring training, the Padres flipped him to the Philadelphia Phillies as a PTBNL for Mauber Lopez. He played three seasons with Philadelphia, culminating in 2006, when Sanches went 3-2 over 36 relief appearances, with a 1.95 ERA, 52 K’s in 43.2 innings, and a shiny 0.847 WHIP. The Phillies, emboldened by his performance gave him his callup in June.

Sanches still spent most of his time in the minor leagues over the rest of the 2006 season and 2007, getting into 30 major league games during that time. He went 1-1 and struck out 31.0 in 36 innings during that time, with a 5.75 ERA and a FIP that indicated he pitched much, much worst, at 7.60. His WHIP was 1.694, and he one one of his two decisions. The Phillies, though, had seen enough, and granted his free agency just after the 2007 campaign. He signed on to played with the Washington Nationals.

As a Nat, Sanches wasn’t much better, although he flipped his ERA and his FIP in essence in 2007. He went 2-0 with a 7.36 ERA with a 5.31 FIP and a 1.909 WHIP in a small 11 innings sample size at the major league level, striking out 10 in 11 innings and spending the balance of his time with the Columbus Clippers at Washington’s triple-A affiliate, where he played in 32 games and went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a 0.980 WHIP, striking out 45 guys in just 33.2 innings. The Nats, though, like the Phils, didn’t see a reason to pursue him any further after his season, and granted his release.

Sanchez signed on with the Florida Marlins as a free agent after the season, in November 2008. In 2009, he played 16 games with the New Orleans Zephyrs, where he went 1-1 with a 2.04 ERA and a 0.962 WHIP, and 22 whiffs in 17.2 innings. In May the Marlins called him up, and in his first appearance, he struck out two while pitching a perfect ninth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Marlins went 24-23 in games that he appeared in through the rest of the season, and went 63-52 otherwise.

Over Sanches 47 games, he went 4-2 with a team-second best 2.56 ERA and 4.14 FIP, with a 1.349 WHIP and 51 K’s in 56.1 innings pitched. On May 20th, Sanchez pitched the ninth and 10th innings and kept Arizona scoreless, allowing a single and striking out a batter in an eventual 11-9 13-inning loss to the Diamondbacks. On August 1st, Sanches inherited three runners with two out in the bottom of the second, trailing 6-0 to the Chicago Cubs, then induced an Alfonso Soriano flyout to escape the jam. He eventually struck out six batters over 3.1 innings giving up just two hits in an eventual 9-8, 10-inning loss.

In 2010, Sanches pitched in 61 games to rank third on the Marlins in appearances. He went 2-2 with a team-second 2.26 ERA, a club-best 1.099 WHIP, and a 4.13 FIP which tells a slightly different story. He struck out 54 in 63.2 innings, allowing just 43 hits for a team-best 6.1 H/9.

On May 8th, Sanches entered the bottom of the eighth inning, trailing to the Nationals 5-4 with the bases loaded and just one out, then induced Josh Willingham to pop out before striking out Willie Harris. On June 8th, Sanches entered in the fifth inning trailing in a game against the Phillies 5-4 with the bases loaded and nobody out, then proceeded to pitch a perfect inning in an eventual 10-8 loss. On July 23rd, he came on in the fifth inning with one out and a runner on first, then got Brian McCann to ground into a double play to end the inning. He piched a scoreless sixth as well in a 7-6 Marlins win over the Atlanta Braves. Sanches got his first win of the season on September 12th, striking out four in 1.2 perfect innings of relief in a 6-5 victory over Washington. Sanches participated in a group shutout in the last game of the season on October 2nd, pitching two perfect innings of relief and striking out three Pirates in a 2-0 win against Pittsburgh.

2011 would see Sanches go 4-1 in 39 games for the Marlins. He didn’t allow a run in his first eight appearances, allowing one hit striking out 10 over 13.2 innings. The Marlins were 10-29 when he appeared and 62-51 when he didn’t play. He earned a 3.94 ERA and a 4.63 FIP, along with a 1.427 WHIP. Although he only gave up 52 hits, his WHIP was a little higher because he walked batters at a team-worst tying 5.3 per nine innings (with Brad Hand).

In Sanches’ first game of the season on April 3rd, he entered in the fourth inning, trailing the New York Mets by a 7-0 score, then pitched four hitless innings, striking out two and allowing only a walk. The Marlins, unfortunately, didn’t have any magic that day, and lost by a 9-2 final score. Sanches also went one-for-one from the plate in collecting his first major league hit. It improved his lifetime batting average to a robust .167, and it would remain his only major league hit. On May 22nd, Sanches entered a game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning, trailing by a 4-0 score, then pitched three innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. The Marlins lost the game by the same 4-0 score, as James Shields spun a three hit gem, striking out 13 Fish. On August 9th, Sanches inherited a bases loaded one out situation, trailing the Braves 3-0, and got Dan Uggla to strike out looking to end the threat. He pitched a perfect seventh also, striking out three over 1.1 innings of the 4-3, 11 inning loss to Atlanta.

Sanches was granted free agency following the season, and rejoined the Phillies. He would spend most of his time in Philadelphia’s minor league feeder system, only getting into six games with the Phils. He allowed 12 hits in just 6.1 innings, striking out five and allowing a 9.95 ERA, an 11.15 FIP, and a 2.368 WHIP over six relief appearances. The Phils released him on August 2nd, and the Houston Astros picked him up the same day. Like with Philly, however, the Astros kept him in the minors. He played the floowing season in the Royals minor league system. He didn’t appear again after the 2013 season.