Pittsburgh Pirates All-Time Top 100: 89. Freddy Sanchez

Freddy Sanchez was a 6' right handed shortstop from Hollywood, California. He was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 30th round of the 1996 MLB June Amateur Draft. Instead of signing with the Braves, he elected to attend Glendale Community College, later transferring to Dallas Baptist University as a Junior and then to Oklahoma City University as a Senior, where he earned NAIA All-Star status.

That Sanchez could even walk was a minor medical miracle. He was born with a severely pigeon-toed left foot and a club right foot. He received surgery and years of physical therapy before he could walk properly. He was drafted a second time after graduating with the Class of 2000 by the Boston Red Sox, in the 11th round of that seasons' draft.

Sanchez split his first professional season between the low "A" New York Penn League Lowell Spinners (.288 in 34 games) and the "A" South Atlantic League Augusta Greenjackets (.303, 30 games). He followed that in 2001 by starting out with the high "A" Florida State League Sarasota Red Sox (.339, 69 games) before joining the "AA" Eastern League Trenton Thunder (.326 through 44 contests).

In 2002, Sanchez appeared in three levels of the Boston organization. He hit .328 in 80 games in Trenton and .301 in 45 games with the "AAA" Pawtucket Red Sox before making his major league debut on September 10th. In 12 games, he went three-for-16 with two RBI. 2003 would see him between Pawtucket (.341 in 58 games) and Boston (six-for-34) through the first half of the season. On July 31st, he was traded along with pitcher Mike Gonzalez and cash to the Pirates for pitchers Brandon Lyon, Anastacio Martinez and Jeff Suppan. He went two-for-five in one game with the "AAA" Pacific Coast League Nashville Sounds before suffering an ankle injury. He spent the rest of the season and most of the next on the disabled list.

When Sanchez did play in 2004, he hit .264 for the Sounds in 44 games, going three-for-19 through nine games while with the big club. He joined Pittsburgh on a more permanent arrangement in 2005. He only struck out 36 times in 453 at bats, ranking ninth in the NL by striking out only once every 12.6 plate appearances. He played shortstop, second base, and third base while batting in every position in the order except for 4, 5 and 9th, but he mostly batted leadoff. On April 23rd, he hit a game winning pinch RBI triple with two outs in the top of the ninth to defeat the Chicago Cubs, 4-3. On May 27th, he went 3-for-4 with a double and a run as the Cincinnati Reds took a 6-5 victory. On September 18th, he again went 3-for-4 with a triple, scoring two runs and knocking in two more in a 9-7 Bucs win over the Reds. He totalled a .291 record his first full major league season in 132 games, scoring 54 times with 35 RBI. Pittsburgh went 67-95, tied for the worst record in the National League.

In 2006, Garcia had a breakout season. After starting the year on the bench, he took over the starting third base position after incumbent Joe Randa suffered an injury. He played so well, he received 850,000 write-in votes for the all-star game, making it for the first time. He also finished 17th in the NL MVP balloting. He won the batting title by hitting .344 with an NL leading 53 doubles and a career high 85 RBI. He had 60 multi hit games on the season, including 21 three hit games and five games in which he hit safely four times. On June 29th, he went 4-for-5 with a double and a home run with three runs and two RBI. The Pirates finished just one game ahead of the last place Chicago Cubs, at 67-95.

Although he didn't win a batting title in 2007, Sanchez still proved invaluable to the Bucs. He hit .304 with a career high 11 home runs and 81 RBI as Pittsburgh's regular second baseman, batting mostly third in the order. On August 28th, he went 3-for-3 with a walk, a home run and five RBI in a 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh, at 68-94, finished with the worst record in the NL.

2008 would see the Pirates finish with a 67-95 record, last in the division but four games better than the San Diego Padres and 7.5 games ahead of the Washington Nationals. Sanchez hit .271 through 145 games for the Pirates. He batted mostly first or second as the Buc's regular second baseman. On May 9th, he went 2-for-4 with a double and all three of Pittsburgh's RBI in a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

In 2009, Sanchez was hitting .296 through 86 games with the Pirates. On May 25th, he went 6-for-6 with four runs scored, a double, a home run, and three RBI as the Pirates took care of the Chicago Cubs, 10-8. Pittsburgh finished at 62-99 for last in the NL Central, 3.5 games ahead of the NL worst Washington Nationals. On July 29th, the Pirates sent him to the San Francisco Giants for Tim Alderson.

Sanchez finished out the season and the next two with the Giants, hitting .290 in 196 contests. After sitting out the 2012 season with a back problem, he was granted free agency by San Francisco.

All-Time Statline: Six seasons, 676 games, .301/338/.424, 777-for-2480, 338 runs, 175 doubles, 15 triples, 37 home runs, 289 RBI, 10 stolen bases, 131 walks, 290 strikeouts, 11.8 wins above replacement.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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