New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has been a lightning rod for criticism during his time in the Bronx. Now it’s time to apologize.
For years, his inconsistency and defensive shortcomings have driven Yankee fans up the wall. Such is the curse for players that light the world on fire during their rookie campaign and then fail to live up to those exorbitant expectations every season.
But make no mistake, Gary Sanchez has always been a good hitter. Sure, he has a tendency to go on extreme hot and cold streaks. That’s part of the reason Sanchez is such an infuriating player to Yankee fans.
For every iteration of “August Gary”, there’s a three-week stretch where he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat.
But when you put the full season’s body of work together, it becomes clear that Sanchez is a positive force for the Yankees more often than he’s not. He’s only ranked below average in OPS+ in two seasons, an injury riddled 2018 season and the shortened 2020 season.
But even throughout those struggles, he ranked at the top of the league in barreling balls up, average exit velocity and hard hit rate. And in 2020, he posted a completely unsustainable 36% strikeout rate, a full 10% higher than his career average.
A lot of Yankee fans wanted Sanchez to take a back seat to Kyle Higashioka in 2021. After all, Higashioka is the superior defensive catcher and hit better than Sanchez in 2020. But the true believers never lost faith.
And now, Sanchez is rewarding that faith with a special, prolonged hot streak that has his doubters publicly apologizing.
In 2021, Sanchez is slashing .229/.335/.465 for an OPS of an even .800. That’s fantastic production from a position that many teams get nothing offensively from. And taken as is, Yankee fans would sign up for that level of production without hesitation.
But in the month of June, Sanchez has been on another level. He’s slashing .294/.345/.667 for an OPS of a whopping 1.012. And his .333/.391/.905 slash line in the last week has been crucial to the Yankees’ 5-1 record against the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics. Especially considering that both Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres are slumping.
Gary Sanchez is answering the bell when the Yankees need it the most. He’s hitting like it’s 2017 again. He’s putting an all-star caliber season together thus far. And he’s shown time and time again that he’s an above average hitter, let alone an above average hitting catcher.
Now is the time to apologize for doubting Gary Sanchez in the past. Get on the 2021 Gary hype train or it will leave without you.