Quick, find a first baseman in the league with a .260+ average, eight+ home runs, and forty+ RBI. Pretty difficult, isn’t it? The Pirates don’t have such a first baseman either, but the platoon that they have with Gaby Sanchez and Garrett Jones has combined for a .269 average, nine home runs, and forty-two RBI this season.
Pretty tough to complain about, isn’t it? With Jones, you have a guy who can start at first base in about eighty percent of the games, who’s second on the team in batting average, and leads the team in RBI. Oh, but he can’t hit well against lefties (he has a career average of .197 against them)? Well, we have a fix for that: his name is Gaby Sanchez, and he’s hitting .343 against lefties this year. The only guy who you could say hits lefty pitching better for the Pirates is Andrew McCutchen and, from what we hear, that guy’s pretty good.
Jones and Sanchez both have their weaknesses, certainly, particularly with lefty-on-lefty or righty-on-righty pitching match-ups. Neither is liable be mistaken for a Gold Glover as a first baseman during their careers. Despite those problems, the two have been a lethal tandem for the Pirates so far this season, providing a big boost to the club at the plate, giving both power and average while occupying vital spots in the middle of the lineup.
The Pirates don’t have a first baseman like Joey Votto, or Prince Fielder, because they can’t afford one. That’s the nature of being a smaller market team in Major League Baseball, but if you can work your way around that with a bit of prospect development, and a timely trade, you end up with the tandem the Pirates have right now, and it is a dangerous one. Why pick just one, Gaby or Garrett? Why don’t we have both?