Last Thursday night was an easy lesson in risk versus reward. With the Yankees up 3-0 on the Detroit Tigers, Gary Sanchez was on first base with two outs and Brett Gardner at the plate. With a slight drizzle coming down, he decided to try and steal second. Sanchez scoring on a single from second is a stretch, even with two outs. Furthermore, the Yankees risked injury to arguably their second most important player just three weeks before the playoffs are set to begin.
The Yankees had nothing to gain by sending him and everything to lose. Sometimes risk aversion is very simple.
No reason to run
As you probably already know, Sanchez is expected to miss between two and three weeks with a strained groin that he undoubtedly suffered on that play. The grade of the strain combined with his past recovery times makes it likely that he’ll be back for the playoffs, but there are no guarantees. Sanchez took a stupid risk and now his season could be in jeopardy. And for what? So that he could maybe score from second on a single against the worst team in baseball?
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries
We know that Gary Sanchez is injury prone. He’s been injured three times this year, two times last year, and once in 2017. These injuries have included his biceps, his calf, his hamstring, multiple groin injuries, and his left shoulder. His injuries are mostly related to soft tissue muscles in the lower body. A player this injury prone has to be careful and play with some caution. Attempting to steal in a meaningless game when you have less than a 10% chance of being safe is not using caution.
Gary Sanchez is a slow runner. He is unlikely to ever do any of the following:
Steal a base successfully.
Score from second on a hard hit single.
Score from first on a double with less than two outs.
Beat out an infield hit.
Go first to third on a single.
With such a small chance to accomplish any baserunning or speed feats, what’s the point of busting it anyway?
Gary Sanchez can’t run a lick. But you know what he can do? Hit. Boy can he hit. He’s by far the best offensive catcher in baseball. He hits the ball as hard as anyone in the game. He has 34 homers in just 104 games. He’s also the second fastest player ever to hit 100 career homers.
The Yankees have a clear advantage at the catcher position every time Sanchez is out there because none of the other catchers in the league have his offensive prowess. His positional value is off the charts. No other catcher is sniffing 30 homers. The Yankees are at a huge disadvantage when Sanchez is unable to play.
Gary Sanchez is slow, so trying to run fast is wasted energy. When Gary tries to run fast, he is more likely to get injured. When he is injured, the Yankees are much worse. A worse team means our chances of having a parade are much smaller.
Gary Sanchez does not need to sprint on a baseball field at any time. He can jog to first after a walk, jog out his groundouts and flyouts, and jog to second if he hits a double. He can also jog around the bases when hits the ball 475 feet.
If you believe that all players should sprint out every ground ball and hustle 100% of the time, you should examine the risk-reward spectrum that each situation dictates.
I’m done ranting. Let’s get Gary back and go get 28.