New York Yankees backstop Gary Sanchez didn’t need to win AL Rookie of the Year to prove his worth, but his late call-up cost him.
There is no doubt that Gary Sanchez was the second half MVP for the New York Yankees in 2016. He made a mockery of American League pitching and led the Yankees to a second-half surge towards a potential Wild Card spot.
Despite his miraculous start in the Major Leagues, Sanchez’s 53 games were not enough to secure him the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer ended up walking away with the title.
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) November 15, 2016
Fulmer started 26 games for the Tigers and was a fixture in the rotation the entire season. While Sanchez was spectacular for a short period of time, Fulmer was consistent for a long period of time, which ultimately earned him 26 of the 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Sanchez’s performance on the field was one that warranted attention from fans of baseball, including slashing 20 home runs in just 53 games. He drew comparisons to the great Willie McCovey, who won the NL Rookie of the Year in 1959 while only playing in 52 games. Even though it has happened before, the Yankees ultimately cost Sanchez that award by calling him up late during a losing season.
Think about it. The Yankees called up Sanchez late in the season to make a desperate push to the playoffs, only to fall short. Sanchez showed off his power and dominance in the Bronx for a short period of time, but that short time ultimately cost him an individual award. A full season of Sanchez would have given him a shot at the title, as well as a chance to give the Yankees an actual fighting chance at the World Series.
The Yankees could have held him back. There was no need to bring Sanchez up during a losing season except to wet his feet. In doing so, he actually ended up making quite a splash.
However, if they kept Sanchez down, instead of wasting his rookie eligibility on two months, the Yankees wouldn’t have lost anything anyway. They didn’t make the playoffs, despite Sanchez’s other-worldly play. And without him, they would have faded into obscurity for the time being.
But what they could have gained, with Sanchez starting out as a rookie in April, could have been astronomical. If Sanchez remained in Triple-A this season, he would have had another season under his belt to master his swing and potentially be more dominant at the plate in the major leagues.
That extra time would allow a full, dominant season out of Sanchez, giving him a fair shot to compete for a once-in-a-lifetime award for his stellar play.
The Yankees wasted away his rookie eligibility and all for what? A show for fans? Another last-minute march towards a playoff spot? Sanchez could have made an even bigger splash for the Yankees and Major League Baseball if only the Yankees had given him a full season to do so.
You’re only a rookie once, and Sanchez only got to be one for 53 games. Despite all the talents he showed off during this time frame, he had the potential to be named Rookie of the Year.
It’s too bad that a late call-up during a losing season would be what ultimately lost The Kraken some well-deserved hardware.