Gary Sanchez is in another swoon. And if the perception is indeed as good as reality, it is for lack of trying. Who’s going to wake him up this time?
Gary Sanchez, in the 16 games he has played during the second half, is batting .197 with three home runs and eight driven in. His OPS is .673, seventy-one points below the league average of .743. Before he landed on the IL, Sanchez was among league leaders in home runs with 24. Today, twenty-nine of peers have equaled or bettered his current mark of 27 home runs. What’s going on here?
Aaron Boone will sit there until he’s blue in the face telling us that baseball is a hard game. Built on failure when you consider the best in the game in Cooperstown made an out seven of every ten times at-bat, even to fans like ourselves, we have seen enough to know Boone is on target.
But as fans of the game, we are also capable of knowing the difference between a player who is trying and one who is not. The subject of several columns, here and elsewhere, Gary Sanchez has often been accused of “not hustling.” It’s never gone as far as stating he doesn’t care. But the perception remains.
With the understanding that not everyone needs to be as emotional in their play as Brett Gardner, Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, and Jeff McNeil, the appearance of not giving 100% is as much condemnation as actually being guilty as charged.
If It Walks Like A Duck And Talks Like A Duck, Then…
We recall the days during the steroid era when players who “looked like” they were using when we saw their newly found bulk in Spring Training, and how they became lumped into the group proven to be using. Gary Sanchez might be the victim of the same form of justice – or not. Who can say?
What we do know though is there are 94 catchers in the major leagues today who have better fielding stats than Gary Sanchez (Baseball Reference). Thirteen times has Sanchez been charged with an error or a passed ball. Sanchez also ranks 20th in the majors with the most wild pitches (24), a judgment call by the official scorer versus a passed ball.
This follows all the hype a year or so ago when Joe Girardi first put Sanchez on the front burner about lack of hustle. All that talk about the hard work, arriving early for individual tutoring from coaches (who also left home early) – what can we say of that now?
Without question, the Yankees are married to Gary Sanchez. It’s not like Aaron Boone is going to announce tomorrow or next week that Sanchez’s backup, Austin Romine, has been moved into the regular catching spot.
But that doesn’t mean Boone can’t find a reason to play Romine, who’s having an excellent season in his own right, twice instead of once a week behind the plate.
Make No Mistake: The Yankees Need Gary Sanchez
Gary Sanchez is an integral part of the Yankee’s offense. His fielding prowess behind the plate will be tolerated, just as it has been over his five seasons with the team. But he has to hit.
Sanchez cannot be seen giving away at-bats and flailing at pitches outside the zone, as is currently his penchant. And for heaven’s sake, he can’t be seen calmly walking back to the dugout with his bat on his shoulder as though it’s just another stroll in the park.
Again, Gary Sanchez doesn’t need to look like he’s hustling – and I dare say caring about his chosen craft – he needs to do it. With no fanfare and no coddling from the Yankees, Gary Sanchez needs to produce!
And before it’s too late, and whether it’s CC Sabathia, Aaron Boone or one of his coaches, Brett Gardner or Sahaira Sánchez, his wife, someone needs to step up – with a positive message once again that says, Gary, we need you. Be all you can be, and do it now!