This is a debate that isn’t going away, and one that could certainly lead to another scuffle this afternoon. Clearly Choo, and the rest of the Indians, feel as though he has been unfairly targeted this season. Maybe that’s so, but for right now let’s focus solely on Saturday night’s scuffle.

To determine Sanchez’s intent, let’s answer a few questions…

1. Was Sanchez trying to throw inside?
There’s no denying the fact that Sanchez was trying to come inside on Choo. As you can see from the screen grab below, Royals catcher Humberto Quintero is clearly set up on the inner half of the plate. The Royals were purposefully attacking Choo inside, but this alone doesn’t prove anything. Pitching inside is a legitimate tactic, and we have to consider the possibility that it was simply an errant pitch.

2. Is this a legitimate strategy?
Pitching inside is obviously part of baseball, but that doesn’t necessarily explain why Choo seems to be target practice for opposing pitchers this season. However, when considering the weak spots in Choo’s swing, it appears as though this approach is very much intentional and is simply good strategy on the part of Sanchez.

Take a look at Choo’s slugging percentage heat map from 2011 versus lefties. There is a noticeable cold spot on the lower inside corner. And it stretches just off the inside part of the plate, indicating that he’s willing to chase these inside pitches.

Given this scouting report, it’s hard to blame the Royals for coming inside against Choo. There is simply no incentive to attack the outer half of the plate when such a blatant cold zone exsists inside.

So far this season, Choo has been hit by three pitches and all three have been by left-handed pitchers. Based on what we know about Choo’s cold zones, it’s entirely reasonable to believe that these were simply pitches targeted inside that got away.

3. Is Sanchez typically wild?
Yes and yes. As any Giants fan will tell you, Sanchez has no clue where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. He’s a bit like Roberto Hernandez. If the roles were reversed, and Hernandez let lose a fastball that nearly sailed behind Eric Hosmer, would we think anything of it? Of course not. The ball goes where it wants to go, and that’s what makes him so frustrating and, at times, so unhittable.

Well, the same is true of Sanchez – only more so. Since 2009, only three starting pitchers have unleashed a higher percentage of wild pitches than Sanchez, and one of them is a knuckleballer.

Sanchez uncorks a wild pitch roughly once every 242 pitches, which comes out to about one every-other game. Every once in a while one of these errant throws is going to plunk someone, as it did Choo on Saturday.

While Choo has every reason to be frustrated by the outcome, it’s hard not to put some of the blame on him. As soon as he shows opposing pitchers that he can turn on the inside fastball, they’ll shy away. While it was nice to see Gomez and Hannahan stick up for their teammate, Choo’s best defense right now may be his own bat.

Follow Ryan on twitter @TribeFanMcC


  • Ben Beilstein says:

    When you throw at someone you don’t hit them in the leg.

  • Steve says:

    I don’t think he had any reason to throw at him, but nevertheless when you break a guy’s thumb and hit him the very next AB you see him he’s GOING to react the way Choo did. Besides, he didn’t charge the mound or anything he just started jawing at him heatedly. I think MLB bullpens and dugouts are WAY too quick to clear. I’d like to see an NBA style rule that anyone leaving the dugout or bullpen for a fight is automatically given a 1 game suspension. Let the players work it out on the field.

  • Steve says:

    One more thing, the only time I think an exception should be made is when you know the pitcher is doing it intentionally AND he throws above the middle of the back, that’s dangerous.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    Yeah, Sanchez has such terrible control I can definitely see where he hits a lot of people if he tries to come inside. I remember before I went out to San Francisco for that series last year, I was talking about how bad Sanchez’s control was, they should be patient, etc. Not at all surprised someone got hit.

    At the same time, I certainly don’t blame Choo for snapping. If I missed a good chunk of the season from someone’s crappy control, I’d want to make sure it didn’t happen again.

    Side note: we were really cheering for Hannahan to bite someone’s ear like Mike Tyson. Now THAT would have been something for the highlight reels!

  • medfest says:

    Choo has been hit 3 times in 7 games and hit the deck just as many times,that’s not accidental or a coincidence.

    The first reason they’re throwing at him is to get him off of hitting the inside fastball because until last year, he murdered that pitch.After he was hit in the thumb, he came back and was tentative on anything inside, as the 2011 heat chart shows.
    The second reason they’re throwing at Choo is they know Acta is reluctant to get into a beanball war.Ask yourself what Early Wynn or Bob Gibson would have done the FIRST time Choo got plunked.We live in a candy ass baseball era,where batters wear armor and still bitch about anything inside and umpires warnings tend to penalize retaliation,so when a guy’s livelihood is actually being jeopardized, as in Choo’s case, we’re desensitized to it.

  • Jeremy says:

    I don’t know if Sanchez was throwing at Choo intentionally. In all honesty, probably not since there really wasn’t any reason to do so. I defended Ubaldo in the spring game thus I would take the same stance here with Sanchez. Nonetheless, I don’t blame (and am GLAD) that the Indians retaliated. Choo has been hit too many times. Other pitchers need to know, if you want to test him inside; fine, go ahead, that’s part of the game. But you pretty damn well better have control otherwise one of your guys is getting plunked next inning and Hannahan is gonna regulate!