Aaron Judge may have more home runs for the New York Yankees but Gary Sanchez is the one who is hitting them when it really counts.
While the spotlight shone solely on Judge, Gary Sanchez was waiting in the wings for his time to shine. Despite an early injury, Sanchez has quickly proven that he’s the Baby Bomber launching the most valuable home runs.
Wait…but Judge has 37 home runs. He leads the American League in bombs and owns Statcast this season. The number of home runs that Judge has does not match the quality of the home runs Sanchez is slugging this season.
Of Judge’s 37 home runs this season, 20 of them have come with the bases empty. That equates to 54 percent of his total home runs this season.
Looking at Sanchez’ stats, things are a little different. While Sanchez has fewer home runs (23), 48 percent of his home runs have come with the bases empty.
When it comes to home runs with runners on, it seems that Sanchez has the edge on that too.
Sanchez has hit 12 of his 23 homers with runners on. With those 12 home runs, he has driven in 30 runs. Judge has hit 17 with runners on and driven in 40 runs.
Sanchez has 14 fewer home runs on the season and yet, he still has almost as many RBIs as Judge when it comes to home runs with runners on.
Plus, when it comes to clutch home runs, no one does it quite like Sanchez. He has slugged five homers in tie games, equating to 22 percent of his home run total. Judge has hit five home runs as well in tie games, which is only 13 percent of his total.
Keeping with the percentages between Sanchez and Judge, both players have hit six three-run home runs this season. That equals 26 percent of Sanchez’ homers, bringing in more runs with more frequency.
I think the major stat that puts Gary Sanchez’ home runs apart from Judge’s and that would be the quality of pitchers that he’s slugged off of.
There are certainly some pitchers out there who are known around the league for being incredibly difficult to hit and Sanchez has taken them deep this season. He has taken Marco Estrada deep twice this season. He’s hit multiple home runs off of David Price. He’s also homered off of Drew Pomeranz, Chris Archer, Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom this season alone.
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While Judge has more home runs, he hasn’t quite hit so many off as many high-quality pitchers like Sanchez has. It seems that when the going gets tough, Sanchez doesn’t back down from a challenge. He faces the Prices and Archers of the world with confidence.
When it comes to home runs, we’ll never get tired of seeing Judge obliterate baseballs. It’s become a part of the game that is so common that we’ve become desensitized to the majesty of it all.
But in watching and raving over Judge, we’ve also become distracted by his talent that we’ve failed to see what was right in front of us.
While Judge can hit the ball to the moon, Sanchez is doing it efficiently and in a way where he is producing more runs for the Yankees. Maybe it’s time that he gets some recognition for his home run value too.