It’s about time the baseball world realizes that New York Yankees’ young phenom Gary Sanchez deserves the Rookie Of The Year Award more than anyone.
Despite being a full-time major league ballplayer for less than two months, he has already won the AL Rookie of the week twice, Rookie and Player of the month for August, and was named the catcher for MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team Of The Year.
In fact, “astonishing” is apparently a full-fledged understatement. This kid’s performance stems from an alternate universe.
With 130 at-bats under his belt, he is officially eligible to win the American League Rookie Of The Year award and his case is quite convincing, to say the least.
Through just 41 games this season, the 23-year old catcher owns a slash line of .327/.393/.698 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.091 and 16 home runs.
If we were to see this type of production over a span of 162 games, Sanchez would hit 63 home runs, drive in 118 RBI, and have 53% of his total hits be extra base hits.
According to Baseball Reference’s Play Index, his contemporary home run total is the second most in baseball history within a player’s first 43 career games trailing behind only Wally Berger, who hit 17 within his first 42 games during the 1930 season.
What’s more impressive with Sanchez’s case, however, is that he only started receiving consistent at-bats on Aug. 3 and hit his 16 homers in a mere 40 games.
Plus, Sanchez owns the second-most extra-base hits (27) by a member of the New York Yankees in his first 43 games. The legendary Joe DiMaggio recorded the most (31) in 1936.
Side note: Sanchez reached that total in 27 fewer plate appearances than the Hall Of Fame centerfielder.
He also managed to help New York’s offense increase their runs per game to 4.69 since Aug. 3, compared to the 4.01 runs per game the offense generated preceding to his permanent call-up.
Additionally, Sanchez’s .327 batting average ranks first among AL rookies and eighth in all of baseball among players with at least 70 plate appearances.
His .393 on-base percentage also ranks first among AL rookies, (15 in MLB), while his .698 slugging percentage ranks first in MLB.
Sanchez’s home run total sits second among rookie hitters, which is absurdly unbelievable given the fact that he has 356 plate appearances less than the rookie with the most (Nomar Mazara, 18).
Wait, his ridiculousness isn’t quite done, yet.
The highly touted prospect also leads all AL rookies with a Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) of 186 which tell’s us that Sanchez has the greatest offensive value among players in their first year of the show.
So, yes, he’s only been here for two months but they have been historically dominant months. Just recognize, we haven’t seen a rookie burst onto the scene like this since the 1930’s.
However, his main competition doesn’t make his money with the lumber. 23-year old Michael Fulmer has taken center stage as baseball’s next best starting pitcher and was one of the major frontrunners to take the honor of rookie of the year.
Through his first 14 starts, the right-hander sustained an ERA of 2.13 with an opponent’s slash line of .206/.279/.310, just six home runs allowed in 84.2 innings, and a 9-2 record.
In the first half of the season, he led all AL pitchers with at least 70 innings with a 2.11 ERA and the fourth-lowest opponent’s batting average.
“Was,” one of the influential frontrunners is the keyword.
Since August 19, Fulmer is 0-4 with a 6.28 ERA while surrendering six home runs in 28.2 innings of work profoundly influencing an opponent’s OPS of .806.
Additionally, his SIERRA score since Aug. 19 is 4.99 which is literally categorized by FanGraphs as “awful.”
For those unfamiliar with the sabermetrics behind SIERRA, it is a number generated by FanGraphs which answers questions like “what is the underlying skill level of this pitcher?” or “How well did they actually pitch over the past year?”
The stat, according to the sabermetric library, is defined, reliable, and predictive while accounting for some of the complexity of pitching.
Even prior to that dreadful stretch, his score sat at 3.95 which is insignificantly below the “average” mark while his FIP (measurement of a pitcher’s performance that strips out the role of defense, per FanGraphs) lists Fulmer’s total as below average and sitting 21st among AL starters with at least 100 innings.
His overall strikeout per nine innings ratio (7.26 K/9) ranks 23rd among qualified rookie starters despite the fact that his WAR sits atop the list (2.7).
I may have gone full nerd on you as those are a lot of complex numbers that came your way, but it just goes to reveal what arises when you break down the rookie year of Michael Fulmer.
Sure, he’s had a moderately firm campaign, as he currently ranks second in ERA among AL starters with at least 100 innings, but the more in depth we go with his opening act, the more he seems like a young arm that has been figured out.
That is one of the exclusive reasons why the conversation veers its head towards Gary Sanchez.
Even with the Yankees’ unprecedented burst since the deadline (sparked by Sanchez), the majority would acknowledge that this season has been mostly a downhill fall rather than an uphill climb for New York.
Just when they were on the brink of falling completely out, their rookie catcher emerged as a revelation that inspired hope.
Even with the sun setting on 2016 — with New York currently sitting 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card with 13 games remaining — Sanchez represents the dawn of a new era.
Flawless value, an inspirational future, and a historically epic rookie campaign. How are these not the fundamental measure of the rookie of the year award?
What do you think, fans? Do the numbers overshadow the brief service time or is it way too small of a sample size to proclaim Gary the Rookie Of The Year?
Let your voice be heard by filling out the poll below and commenting in the appropriate section.
— Christian Kouroupakis (@ckouroupakis) September 19, 2016
Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.