It’s been another hard year for Gary Sanchez who was recently replaced by Kyle Higashioka after a horrendous performance at the plate.
Sanchez came into spring training looking to start fresh after losing his job in the 2020 playoffs to Higashioka but things didn’t go exactly as planned.
Sanchez did start hot in during March after working to shorten his swing during the winter months. He even showed up early the training to work with Tanner Swanson, the catching coach. Sanchez hit three monster home run in the first few weeks in Tampa, made no errors behind the plate, and hit a solid .385 in his first 13 at-bats.
Things were looking up for Sanchez but the starting catcher quickly fell from grace once the regular season started. After only two games, the home runs came to a complete halt. By the time manager, Aaron Boone was ready to replace Sanchez with Higgy the last week of April Sanchez had hit just two regular-season home run and was slashing .184/.308/.309 in 55 at-bats. It was clear to everyone that Sanchez had lost whatever he had brought to spring training just one month earlier.
Gary gets benched
Although Boone insisted that personal catchers just weren’t going to be a thing this season, Sanchez’s struggles quickly led to Higashioka taking over Gerrit Cole games but it didn’t stop there. Slowly and without announcement the organization began sitting Sanchez more and more, only really using him when Higgy needed a rest day.
Signs of improvement
During Sanchez’s spotty playing time the last few weeks we’ve been seeing glimpses of the Sanchez we all hoped for. Sanchez is showing signs of life with his wOBA steadily improving creeping up to .380 which is above the current MLB average.
He also has a wRC+ of over 100 again falling above the league average.
When you break it all down Sanchez is above league average with his offensive numbers.
Fun fact: Gary Sánchez is now hitting .178/.333/.356, which is a 102 wRC+. All of this is to say that Gary has been an above-average hitter in 2021. That is incredible.
It’s clear now that Sanchez simply isn’t happy on the bench. Although Sanchez is no longer the everyday catcher, when he is behind the plate he’s showing some serious improvement both offensively and defensively.
In his last three games Gary has come out hot, showing the front office and fans that it isn’t time to give up on him just yet.
First 2 games: 2 HR Next 18 games: 0 HR Last 3 games: 2 HR
It’s clear from his performance that Sanchez isn’t done fighting to be the starting catcher. He’s looking to once again prove himself to not just the organization but to fans as well. The reality is Sanchez will most likely end up back behind the plate consistently before the months up. It’s not just Gary’s improvements but Higgy’s decrease in production.
Unlike Sanchez, Higashioka’s wOBA is slightly decreasing overtime, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the guy has been in the minors for around 10 years.
The stats and the eye test both tell me, and anyone else paying attention, that Sanchez is the starter and Higgy is the back up. It’s just a matter of time before the reality kicks back in.