The New York Yankees are entering dangerous waters in regards to placing expectations on rookie phenom, Gary Sanchez.
After getting a few cups of coffee here and there, the 23-year old was officially called up on August 3 as the Yankees headed into rebuild mode, and Sanchez helped ease the transition.
In that month of August, he slashed .389/.458/.832 with an OPS of 1.290 and 11 home runs en route to winning the American League Player and Rookie Of The Month awards.
Then, on September 21, Sanchez became the fastest player in baseball history (45 games) to reach the 18 home run mark and later tied Wally Berger — who accomplished the feat in 1930 — as the fastest to reach 20.
With that, came the comparisons.
We’ve heard it all: next Babe Ruth, the Yankees “savior,” and more. It’s justifiable, as we’ve really never seen anything like his first year in major league baseball, but these expectations must tamper.
It’s not just because he went 23-for-102 (.225) in the final month of the year, because even after that some actually think his storybook rookie year is the norm, which needs to correct itself before his sophomore season begins.
After all, expecting the numbers he put up during his hot start is asinine. Think about it.
In 284 at-bats in Triple-A this year, he hit just 10 home runs then doubled that total in 83 fewer at-bats with the big league club.
Additionally, Sanchez’s career OPS in High-A Tampa was .744, .760 in Double-A Trenton, then improved to .820 in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
That screams “major league ready,” and he smashed that term by maintaining an OPS of 1.032 in his first taste of it, but from his first assignment in High-A ball to his second he actually declined from .766 to .736.
The theme saw no resolution during his stint in Triple-A where he saw a decline from a .849 OPS down to .807.
This is not being said to bash Gary Sanchez. His mechanics are the real deal and his ability to carry a team on his back is impeccable.
Plus, while seeing that overall number generally grow from the lower rankings of the organization to the higher ups is encouraging for the long-term. However, pitchers (for now) will adapt to his pull-happy tendencies (17 of 20 home runs were to left field).
You saw a prime example of that as he struck out in 34% of his at-bats in September.
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The question for this season is: how quickly he can adjust? Sanchez’s history tells us it’ll take some time, maybe even a year, so don’t write him off if he encounters a slight sophomore slump.
Plus, whether fans like it or not, the 2017 New York Yankees aren’t built to win a championship. They are several components away from that, in fact.
With that said, anticipate the theme of next season to be similar to that of 2016. While the team will make moves to win now, the kid’s development is the importance here. The last thing the organization needs is for Sanchez to grow out of favor with the
The last thing the organization needs is for Sanchez and the future to grow out of favor with the tough New York crowd. He, and the rest of the Baby Bombers, need time to adapt to life as a major leaguer.
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.