It’s the offseason but it’s never too early for an ultimatum. While Gary Sanchez will likely improve defensively this season, the hate for the New York Yankees backstop must cease.
Let’s face it, everyone. This whole “Gary Sanchez is the worst” thing is simply getting old.
I mean, what are we? Fair weather fans who rip into an athlete as soon as he makes a mistake only to jump back on the bandwagon when he starts performing well? But hey, that’s what being a professional athlete is all about, right?
The “Slamming of the Slamchez” has gone on for far too long and, I must admit, for a while I partook in the ribbing of this athlete. It’s so difficult to cheer for a player who has the power to give you immense joy while also causing distress.
He’s had his ups and downs in his first full season but, overall, he was a huge reason why the Yankees found themselves knocking on the door to the World Series this season.
He impressed on offense, launching 33 home runs despite missing a whole month early on in the season due to injury. He also served as a catalyst in the playoffs, hitting long balls and also notching clutch hits, like his go-ahead double in Game 4 of the ALCS. Oh, and now he’s a Silver Slugger. Impressive for a player who “sucks.”
But all of those positive attributes got buried under the not-so-impressive stats on the defensive end. Yes, he could probably throw out Usain Bolt even with a ten-foot head start. But when it comes to blocking balls in the dirt, his game faltered.
There’s no denying that he struggled at times behind the plate. He finished the season first as a catcher in both passed balls and errors. At the same time, he also ranked second in assists by a catcher and third in putouts as a catcher.
There are positives alongside the negatives, my friends. So the doom and gloom isn’t even necessary. No, witnessing him let balls squirt through his legs isn’t encouraging. However, I think people forget to take into account that he’s a.) a bigger type of catcher that is still young and b.) dealing with some of the tougher pitchers to catch in baseball.
Take Masahiro Tanaka as an example. Tanaka relies on his movement from his slider and splitter to throw off opponents. According to Brooks Baseball, last season he threw those two pitches a combined 56.9 percent of the time. That’s a lot of work for Sanchez behind the dish.
Throw in the inconsistent, often wild arms of Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances and you have a living nightmare for any catcher. Sure, sometimes Sanchez’s passed balls were due to slower reaction times when it came to getting down on the ball or the expectation that he could just snag it with his glove.
Did we do this, Yankees fans? Did we build up Gary Sanchez so much after only seeing him for two months and automatically expect perfection from him that anything less made us wage war against our All-Star catcher?
He’s always struggled on defense in the minors and has gotten better over the years. And he is YOUNG. I repeat, HE IS STILL YOUNG. Giving up on him right now would be like deeming Derek Jeter unfit for Major League Baseball after he batted .202 in his first minor league season. We all know how well that one worked out…
The Yankees had a whirlwind season and a lot of it was because of both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez serving as catalysts for an inexperienced team. So if you are one of those “fans” who is saying that Sanchez sucks and should be benched or traded, kindly see yourself off the bandwagon and do not bother coming back.
He is a work in progress, just like Aaron Judge was when he first came up. While Sanchez exploded in his first two months, Judge failed miserably. Yet, here we are, with Judge finishing 2017 in an MVP race and a shoe-in to nab Rookie of the Year.
As long as Sanchez is on our team, producing and working hard every day, fans should be cheering him on, not dragging him down. If you are, expect a healthy dose of taunting by those who stuck by him and will say “I told you so.” And you better accept that.
He’s young. He’s excited. And he’s still learning how to handle the biggest stage in the game. He’ll improve but your negativity won’t help that process.
Gary Sanchez, with the way some fans are treating you, you are likely confused. All I can say is just keep doing you and the real fans will love you for it, through all the ups and downs.