A number of things have seemed to go quite well for the New York Yankees. From a superb record to the standout play of youngsters like Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andújar, there are many positives surrounding Aaron Boone’s first season as the Yankee skipper.
However, both fans and analysts alike have recently brought attention to the struggles at the plate for catcher Gary Sanchez.
To this point, Sanchez has managed to help contribute in part to the Yankees success with 13 home runs and 39 runs driven in over his first 58 games. One of those homers, the first walk-off home run of his career back on April 26th, against the Minnesota Twins.
Gary Sanchez hits his first career walk off home run, as the Yankees comeback and complete the sweep against the Twins. pic.twitter.com/amFG8IJkHx
— Bronx Bomber Ball (@BronxBomberBall) April 26, 2018
Unfortunately, Sanchez is hitting a dismal .190 at the plate with a .293 on-base percentage and .731 OPS. A headline for an article in the New York Post goes as far as saying “This Gary Sanchez can no longer cut it.”
According to an article on Newsday.com, Boone reiterated that he does not see Sanchez’s struggles as a major problem.
“I really don’t worry about it,” Boone said. “I feel like if we’re talking about this a month from now, a couple months from now, it will be a bump in the road from him . . . He’s just too talented of a player, too good a player, too special a hitter for it to go on long.”
Of course, fans have seen Sanchez’s potential as a hitter on many occasions throughout his short career in the Bronx. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting back in 2016, appearing in 53 games for the Yankees and hitting 20 home runs with 12 doubles. He followed up his brief, but exciting, rookie campaign with a 122 game season where he hit .278 with 33 home runs, 20 doubles, and an .876 OPS.
Anytime someone in your lineup is hitting under.200, it’s a cause for concern and I believe that’s exactly why Sanchez’s struggles are such a big worry to so many others. However, Sanchez has the potential to be one of, if not the best, hitting catchers in baseball. He has already shown the league of his potential.
There are positives in his stat line if you look beyond his batting average and OBP. His walk rate is over 12%, the highest of his career. Opposing pitchers have been throwing him a much higher percentage of breaking/offspeed pitches, resulting in a lower hard-hit rate for Sanchez and an extreme infield-fly rate. If Sanchez can find his swing against these breaking pitches, the Yankees will quickly see the return of one of the top hitting catchers in the league.
Ultimately, only time will tell if Sanchez will climb over this hump, but I have a strong amount of confidence that the odds are in his favor.