One of the major surprises this season for the New York Yankees has been Austin Romine both behind the dish and at it, regardless of being just a backup.
This season for the New York Yankees has been full of pleasant surprises around every corner. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar have made waves in the Bronx in their rookie seasons, Aaron Hicks has turned the corner and Aaron Judge proved that last season was no fluke when it came to his potential.
Perhaps one of the greatest surprises came from one of the biggest disappointments from this year. With Gary Sanchez putting together an underwhelming performance at the plate and ultimately losing time to injury, Austin Romine has gotten a plethora of opportunities to prove his worth.
And he’s made every start count.
Despite Romine’s sold performance filling in for Sanchez, many are discouraged because he isn’t Sanchez. He doesn’t have Sanchez’s rocket arm that guns runners out on the regular. He doesn’t have Sanchez’s raw power swing. But why does that matter?
Romine is doing things that Sanchez has been unable to do so far this season. First, he’s stayed healthy, with the exception of his recent bump to the chin sustained a short time ago. Second, he’s actually putting the bat on the ball on a consistent basis.
Sanchez spent his 66 games on the field being an incredibly streaky hitter at the plate. While Sanchez had several clutch hits, he also struck out frequently in vital moments, flailing at pitches way out of the zone. In fact, Sanchez seemed to be more of a hindrance instead of a help each time he stepped into the batter’s box.
With Romine, it was the exact opposite. Currently batting .256 on the season, Romine has excelled with men on base, batting .299 in those situations. In terms of the power department, he’s not Sanchez but he has already doubled his career-high in home runs with eight.
And on the defensive front, his weaker arm has still done a great job at keeping runners from swiping extra bases. He owns a 30 percent caught stealing percentage, which is just above the league average of 28 percent.
Austin Romine has served the Yankees well during Sanchez’s absence but he’s definitely not taking the place of the starting backstop. Basically, you have to realize that Romine will be that reliable backup who does things a little differently than Gary Sanchez. And guess what? That’s perfectly okay. That’s how he’s getting things done.
The Yankees don’t need a backup who plays exactly like Sanchez. They need someone who can bring a different flavor to the lineup. Instead of strikeouts and streaky plate appearances, Romine brings a bat with a little bit of power and a lot of steady contact. Just what the team needs.
While Sanchez’s absences was supposed to be a huge hole in the lineup, the Yankees are finding ways to win without him. Romine is playing a big role in that, stepping up to be the primary catcher and doing one heck of a job.
But comparing him to what Sanchez can do is completely unfair. He may be a fellow catcher but Romine has so many other skills that make him valuable that may not be as flashy as Sanchez.
While many are patiently waiting for Gary Sanchez’s return, Austin Romine is doing things his own way and doing it incredibly well. Nobody does the job quite like Gary Sanchez but Austin Romine has figured out how to showcase his own skills and make fans take notice.
No, he’s no longer Gary Sanchez’s backup. He’s Austin Romine. He’s earned that respect with his performance so far this season.