So what do you think? Can Anibal Sanchez maintain his current pace through 2012?
Looking at Anibal's numbers I see a great increase in K/9 between his career and 2012. It is worth note that Anibal had a 9.26 K/9 in 2011, so he has quite recently produced that high strikeout rate. Also, Anibal has been walking fewer batters than he has in his career, compared to 2011 he has been walking less batters than the 2.93 BB/9 rate he posted in what has been his best full season to date.
So far in 2012, Anibal has struck out batters are a higher rate than his career rate, but at a lower rate than 2011, indicating that perhaps Anibal has turned a corner as a strikeout pitcher and a K/9 greater than nine is his new norm. His walk rate on the other hand has been trending downward over the last few years, but his 2012 performance so far does not have enough support to conclude that he will sustain a BB/9 of 2.30. Though I do believe that we can expect a BB/9 less than his career numbers.
in 2012 Anibal has posted a 51.7% ground ball percentage, quite a bit greater than his career 44.6%. This number helps explain his lower BABIP because Anibal is inducing a weaker kind of contact than he has been so far in his career. This also helps to explain his lower home run rate because his HR/FB rate is right around his career numbers. Basically it appears that Anibal's exceptional success this season is not so much due to luck. He is doing a better job at getting weak contact. We probably should expect Anibal's ground ball rate to regress some to be more in line with his career numbers, leading to a higher BABIP and HR/9.
It is possible that Anibal maintains his current pace, though it isn't probable. What I find particularly reassuring is that Anibal isn't getting very lucky. His left on base percentage is right in line with his career rate and his ERA is right around is FIP. Anibal IS currently pitching as well as his numbers would indicate...it isn't so much a question of Anibal regressing due to absurdly good luck so far in 2012 (which he has not had). But a question of Anibal maintaining the level of pitching that he has shown so far this season and even in parts (most) of 2011.