Geoff Miller

Interview: Freddy Sanchez, 2006 NL Batting Champion

In Interviews on December 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Freddy Sanchez, 2B, SF Giants, 2006 NL Batting Champion, NL All-Star 2006, 2007

Freddy Sanchez was drafted in the 11th Round of the 2000 Draft by the Boston Red Sox.  He grew up in Burbank, CA and attended Glendale Community College, Dallas Baptist University, and was drafted as a senior at Oklahoma City University.  He made his major league debut with Boston in 2002 and was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003.  He spent 2005, his first full season in the majors, in a utility role and didn’t earn an every day starting job until May of 2006, when starting 3B, Joe Randa, was injured.  2006 was a storybook season for Freddy, who went from a back-up to a batting champion.  He had 200 hits, led the National League with a .344 average and also led the league with 53 doubles.  He was an All-Star in 2006 and 2007 and has a career batting average of .299.  In 2009, Freddy was traded to the San Francisco Giants and he signed a two-year extension with the Giants on Oct. 31.  Freddy’s 2006 season demonstrates his strengths as a hitter, lots of contact, line-drives, and gap power.  He shares his thoughts on winning the batting title, ideas on hitting, and the importance of confidence.

Geoff Miller: What memories stand out most from the year you won the batting title?  What was the last week of the season like for you knowing that you were close?

Freddy Sanchez: The thing that stands out the most was how the fans came together.  Obviously, we weren’t having a great year, but the fans really got behind me and the support they gave me was great.  I started out as a utility guy that year.  Joe Randa, unfortunately got hurt and you don’t want anyone on your team to get hurt, but I remember how supportive he was, even after he got healthy.  He really helped me out a lot and was a great teammate and is a great person.

The last week was a bit tougher because it didn’t really matter what I was hitting until that last week and that’s when I started to realize that this is something that could be possible.  I hadn’t thought about it the whole season until then and I started to feel the race at that point.  I had a lot of nerves going, especially the last day of the season.  But that day, I talked to Jack Wilson and he helped me relax.  I felt like moving around a lot and was anxious, but I decided that I was just going to play ping pong in the clubhouse and treat it like any other day.  Jack and I just played ping pong for hours and that was the most relaxed I’d been all week.

GM: Which is more important for you as a hitter, seeing the ball well or your timing?

FS: For me, it’s seeing the ball well.  You need both of those things to succeed in baseball and early on in the season, I would say that it’s timing.  But as the season goes on, you get your timing down and once you get comfortable in the daily routine of the season, seeing the ball well is more important.

GM: What do you do to maintain confidence throughout the season?

FS: There are so many ups and downs in baseball and one day you can have a great game and the next you can go 0-5 with 4 strikeouts.  You have to know that you’re going to keep your confidence up every day.  I pray every night and that keeps me believing in myself and giving me the strength to play hard.  I just focus on staying healthy and staying strong.  There are times when you aren’t 100% physically and it gets harder to stay confident. But keeping my routine and getting into the cage really help me maintain that.

GM: When you were a young player in the big leagues, who would you say taught you the things you needed to know about being a good teammate, being a leader, being a good big leaguer?

FS: The person that took me under his wing, even though we are the same age, is Jack.  He had been in the big leagues for a while when I got there.  He let me live with him, he took ground balls with me, he was the biggest influence in my baseball career.

GM: How do preparation and routine work for you and have you changed any of your preparation or routines as you have established yourself as a veteran in the big leagues?

FS: Your success as a player is going to come from your preparation and routine.  I like to have a routine that I do every day and I know that if I have prepared, then I can go out and play and know that I did the best I could do that day.   There have been some changes to my routine, as I have gotten older.  When I was younger I might go in the cage and take 500 swings, but now I know that I have to do what’s best for me so I don’t tire myself out.  The preparation doesn’t change on a daily basis, but it does change over time.

GM: What is the most important mental game lesson you have learned in your career?

FS: There are so many things that I’ve learned, but I think the most important is not to get too down mentally and emotionally when things aren’t going well.   You have to try to stay positive and confident no matter what is happening.

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Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, will be released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:

http://www.bytelevelbooks.com/books/intangibles.html

For more information, please contact Geoff Miller at miller@thewinningmind.com.

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