At the All-Star break last season, the Yankees’ season seemed all but over. For the first time in years, the New York Yankees were sellers at the deadline, and it left Yankee fans in a somewhat unfamiliar spot. Carlos Beltran, the team’s most productive hitter? Sold. The dominant All-Star closer Andrew Miller? Gone. The Cuban Missile, Aroldis Chapman, who gave Yankee fans something to ooh and awe over with his 100+ mph fastballs? See ya. The Yankees made it very clear that they were serious about the rebuild, but no one thought they would sacrifice the rest of the season in order to speed up the process. After all, they are the Yankees.
Fast forward two months after the break and the Yankees are still in the mix and looking to sneak into a playoff spot against all odds. How? Two words. Gary Sanchez. Sanchez was called up to the big league club on August 3rd, and proceeded to put the team on his back. He’s been a much-anticipated prospect for years now, but no one could have expected a performance quite like the one he put together.
Gary’s start to his career was unlike anything anyone has ever seen, and will go down in history as one of, if not the best. He became the first player in MLB history with 11 home runs in his first 23 career games, was named AL Player of the Week twice and later earned Player, and Rookie, of the Month honors for the month of August. He continued his unbelievable start into September, where he would go on to hit his 18th and 19th homers in his 45th game, the fastest player to ever reach that mark. He finished his first cup of coffee in the majors slashing .299/.376/.657 with 20 homers and 42 RBI in just 53 games.
Not bad right? These are Babe Ruth-like numbers, but what should Yankee fans really expect from their catcher, who just turned 23-years-old today? Anyone expecting the second coming of the Babe will be disappointed, obviously, but that’s not at all to say there isn’t a lot to look forward from the Kraken in 2017.
Sanchez has long been known to have raw power, and it was showcased at the end of 2016. But will he be able to keep it up throughout the course of a whole season? Absolutely. We’ve seen surprise stories involving players going off and hitting way too many homers than expected, and then proceeded to come back down to earth. This is not the case with Sanchez. Will he hit ten homers a month in 2017? No. However his approach at the plate and his veteran-like ability to be selective makes reaching 30 very possible. While he likely won’t reach the .300 mark in average, the power numbers will be there, as he is slated to be surrounded by power in the lineup. Greg Bird, who I previewed last week, and a possible free agent bat will likely give Sanchez the opportunity to put up high power numbers, as pitchers will not be so inclined to pitch around him.
Opportunities for him to put these numbers to work will not be in short supply either, as the trade that sent Brian McCann to Houston leaves the catcher position all to Sanchez. He won’t play every game behind the plate of course, but Sanchez’s bat should be more than enough to keep him in the lineup for 140 to 150 games. I fully believe that Gary Sanchez will be an All-Star in 2017, even if he doesn’t match the numbers he put up in August and September last season. He’s already put himself in the talk of best catcher in the league with his cannon behind the plate, and seeing him gun down runners all season will surely be something special to watch. Despite what happens at the Winter Meetings next week and the rest of the offseason, one thing for sure is that Yankee fans will have something to look forward to in 2017. That something is Gary Sanchez.
Projected Line: .275/.340/.495, 30 homers, 90 RBI