I’d like to make two things very clear at the start of this article. First, I want to assure you that I love Gary Sanchez. When Gary came up and joined the Bombers during the 2016 season, he made baseball fun again. Sanchez’s historic tear at the end of the ’16 campaign was a bright light in an otherwise dismal year. His emergence marked the beginning of the Yankees’ recent revival, and for that I will always be a Gary Sanchez fan.
Second, I’d like to point out that we’re only five games into the 2020 season. As Andrew Rotondi pointed out yesterday, five games don’t carry much weight, even in a 60-game season. Gary hasn’t gotten off to a great start this year, but players are clearly still adjusting to the unique schedule, unprecedented regulations, and general oddities of 2020 baseball. The Kraken could easily reemerge and dominate Major League pitchers for the rest of this stunted season. It’s too early to worry.
But I’m still slightly worried.
The Extent of Gary’s Slump
Unfortunately, Gary has had more than a few bad games in a row. He looks lost in 2020, but he also looked out of sorts when we saw him at the end of the 2019 season. Since September 4th, Gary has played in 21 games (including last year’s playoffs). He hasn’t recorded multiple hits in any of those 21 games. Here’s a look at what some other Yankee hitters have done during that same time frame…
Judge: 8 multi-hit performances in 33 games
LeMahieu: 11 multi-hit performances in 33 games
Torres: 8 multi-hit performances in 31 games
Urshela: 7 multi-hit performances in 32 games
Stanton: 6 multi-hit performances in 19 games
Gary has also struck out frequently during this 21-game slump (36 times in 79 plate appearances). In 11 of those 21 games, Gary has struck out multiple times. Again, here’s how that stacks up against some of the Yanks’ other premier hitters over that same time period…
Judge: 16 multi-strikeout performances in 33 games
LeMahieu: 6 multi-strikeout performances in 33 games
Torres: 8 multi-strikeout performances in 31 games
Urshela: 4 multi-strikeout performances in 32 games
Stanton: 5 multi-strikeout performances in 19 games
Put simply, Gary has been hitting less and striking out more than most of the Bombers’ other big bats. Normally, Sanchez makes up for some of his shortcomings by blasting the ball out of the ballpark. But in his last 79 plate appearances he’s only hit one home run. These are his overall numbers for the last 21 games…
It’s undeniable that Gary has been the best offensive catcher in baseball since 2016. He has not, however, been the best offensive catcher in baseball over the past two seasons. Since 2018, Gary’s standing amongst catchers has been good, but not amazing. Here’s how he stacked up offensively against other catchers during 2018 and 2019 (minimum 600 plate appearances)…
9th in wRC+ (105)
9th in wOBA (.327)
19th in OBP (.305)
T-1st in HR (52)
5th in RBI (130)
As stated above, these numbers are good, but not necessarily great, at least not for a player who possesses the potential that we all know Gary possesses. I often like to say that even when Gary is struggling he’s still the best offensive catcher in baseball. That hasn’t been the case recently.
Gary’s Great Opportunity
As Andrew said yesterday, Gary isn’t going anywhere. He’s improving defensively, his offensive capabilities are undeniable, and he’s a core member of this Yankee roster. Barring an injury, Gary will be behind the dish for a bulk of the 2020 season. He is going to have many chances to right the ship, find his swing, and bash his way back into our good graces. I hope that all of our concerns look utterly ridiculous in a few weeks, and that the Kraken is his old self once more. Gary has proved his critics wrong before. That’s why I believe he can do it again.