Carlos Sanchez's debut was one to forget. Thrust into a one-game showcase at shortstop in the first-half finale against Cleveland on July 13, Sanchez went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and an error (which seemed to be changed to a single ex post facto). Basically, he looked like a 22-year-old playing his first MLB game out of his preferred position.
In his first full series as the White Sox' rest-of-season second baseman this past weekend, Sanchez provided a much better sense of his skills, even if he made a couple mistakes that underscore the learning curve ahead of him.
At the plate
Sanchez ticked off a number of firsts during the three-game set against the Yankees in the Bronx. He collected his first hit during a 3-for-4 night on Friday:
He started Saturday with his first extra-base hit (a double):
Later that day, he tallied his first RBI, even if it wasn't the most impressive way to do it:
And on Sunday, he committed his first TOOTBLAN, which is even less aesthetically appealing.
All in all, the switch-hitting Sanchez went 6-for-14 out of the No. 2 spot -- 4-for-10 as a lefty -- and with zero strikeouts. That stands out, considering the Sox whiffed 32 times over the three-game series.
He also didn't walk once, but that shouldn't come as a surprise. Pitchers are going to come right at Sanchez until he proves that pitchers should be more careful. He only saw 3.14 pitches per plate appearance, but he also saw an above-average amount of pitches in the zone (he's at 56 percent; Gordon Beckham saw more strikes than anybody at 48 percent), so there's not a whole lot of reward in taking right now.
That's why it's not a great idea for Sanchez to hit second, but hopefully that's more a result of the Sox being shorthanded. We'll find out when Adam Eaton returns tonight. Ideally, Alexei Ramirez would slide into the second spot, leaving Sanchez to take his cuts at the bottom of the order.
(The one argument for hitting Sanchez second: pure rep accumulation. One possible lineup has Eaton, Sanchez, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia hitting in the first four or five spots, which is good TV for Sox fans.)
At second base
The game action forced Sanchez to make a bunch of different plays, and he only botched one of them. It was a costly error that turned into a run on Saturday ...
... and it looked like the kind of play rookies refer to when talking about needing to slow the game down, because Sanchez showed excellent hands otherwise. He made a sliding play to each side, including this one to his right:
But his most impressive effort didn't result in an out. Here's Sanchez ranging to his right on an Ichiro Suzuki chopper, snabbing it with his bare hand and making a throw to first all in one motion:
That's some incredible athleticism and coordination. It's just a shame it was Suzuki out of the box, and not somebody a touch slower, because this play would've had a lot of people talking.
While we're accounting for non-routine plays, let's include a video of Sanchez staying with a pop-up behind second base. This could have ended in disaster if Garcia's collision-detection system didn't kick in. Instead, it's just funny because he and Sanchez are different shapes.
And on the subject of plays that could've been worse:
The only thing we didn't see if Sanchez make a tough turn on a double play, and I'm looking forward to it. "The strong arm of Sanchez" won't become a catch phrase, but "the quick hands of Sanchez" stands a chance. Otherwise, Sanchez didn't draw many comparisons to Beckham over his first series ... or if he did, they were probably rather favorable.
(And if you're curious, Beckham started his Angels career with seven hitless plate appearances, including two strikeouts and a double play.)