In a season once considered dead for the New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez and the rest of the baby bombers have ignited them towards relevancy.
The date was May 5.
The New York Yankees had dropped a 10-inning affair with the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 1-0 and immediately became longshots to ever enter the playoff conversation.
With that loss, New York fell to a brutal 9-17 while sitting seven games out of the American League East and had a mere 11.6% chance of reaching the playoffs just one month into the season.
Their offense was anemic as the “Bronx Bummers” scored the fewest runs in the American League with a run differential of -28.
As a result, and the forecast of their season being cloudy with a chance of no postseason for the third time in four years, general manager Brian Cashman dealt the most valuable assets in Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Beltran at the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline.
Though everyone thought the organization had waved the white flag on the 2016 season, it simultaneously injected a shot of adrenaline into the Yankees’ farm system that now ranks among the best in baseball.
Following the fire sale, the Bombers’ playoff hopes dipped to 2% as they soon found out that Mark Teixeira would call it quits at the end of the season followed by the unconditional release of Alex Rodriguez. With that, it was time to test the farm and see what the kids could do.
Right away the Yankees’ universe got a sweet taste of what the future holds when Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin went back-to-back (to belly-to-belly!) in their major league debuts.
Sure, that was neat and served as a symbolic passing of the torch from the old guards to the “Baby Bombers,” but one specific member of this new core has risen above all and could possibly lead New York to the most improbable achievements.
Oh, have you not heard? His name is Gary Sanchez.
Since his call-up on August 3, the 23-year old rookie is slashing .403/.459/.883 with 10 home runs, 20 RBI, and a whole lot of history through just 20 games.
Just hand over the keys to the city and call it a day already. #GarySanchez, again, his 10th. 12-1 #Yankees pic.twitter.com/f2YTsSUKBs
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) August 27, 2016
With yet another home run in last night’s 14-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, Sanchez tied George Scott and Trevor Story for the most home runs through the first 22 games of his career, set the record for the most home runs in a calendar month by a Yankees’ rookie, and became the first player in baseball history to smash up 10 homers and 30 hits in his first 22 games.
Since August 15, Sanchez leads all of baseball with a .541 batting average, eight home runs, a .614 OBP, a 1.297 slugging percentage, 12 extra-base hits, and 48 total bases. Incredible.
Beyond individual achievement, however, New York owns the best record in the American League East since his promotion and have scored the third most runs in the AL.
The standings now show you the Yankees are 3.5 games behind the O’s with 35 games left to play and eight meetings with them left. They also play 22 games against AL East – a division they are just 5.5 games back from – teams that rank in front of them.
Sure, a berth is far fetched as they truly have to surpass some of the best in the league, however, Sanchez has singlehandedly risen their postseason chances from 2.1% to 5.4% since coming to the Bronx.
If the “monster that keeps on eating” continues to chomp, rookie sensations Chad Green and Luis Cessa continue to dominate, and the rest of the lineup continues to follow in Sanchez’s lead: playoffs may not be Yankee-less after all.