The Yankees appear to be holding on by a thread to their belief that Sanchez and Stanton can stay healthy enough to help the team. I wonder…
The Yankees proved last season they have the depth to absorb injuries while still having replacements to fill the gaps. But is this the way the Yankees want to move forward with the same possibility of it happening again in 2020?
I’ll save you the suspense, they are. And nowhere is it more evident than the Yankees unrelenting faith in Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton. And if we want to get real, throw Aaron Hicks in there as well.
The Yankees enigmatic catcher
Gary Sanchez is listed as the Yankees, full-time starting catcher. And yet, according to Baseball-Reference, in three full seasons (2017-2019), he has managed only 252 starts in his position (an average of 85).
Over 1,347 plate appearances (average 450 per season), Sanchez totals 85 home runs with 340 strikeouts. The math says he strikes out one of every four times he steps to the plate.
Thirty percent of his 283 hits are home runs. His batting average over the last three seasons – a paltry .232.
RBI’s? Not much there, either – an average of 73 per season (220 total). In contrast, Gleyber Torres in only two seasons already has 167 RBI, averaging 83 per year.
That’s Gary Sanchez offensively, which is what the Yankees always tout. We won’t go near his defensive numbers, of which the Yankees tend to either ignore or rationalize with statements saying he is a hard worker and improving.
The Yankees new catching instructor, Tanner Swanson, was hired to give Sanchez a defense makeover specifically.
In a story appearing in The Athletic, Swanson argues, “We’re playing the long game here” concerning Gary Sanchez.
His plan is to get Sanchez closer to the ground, perhaps even catching with one knee down as a way to better block balls in the dirt.
As a newcomer though, Swanson may not be attuned to the fact Sanchez has caught the equivalent of two full seasons – and the Yankees are still in a makeover mode to make him a big-league catcher.
The brittle-boned giant
Switching over to Giancarlo Stanton, we find that before coming to the Yankees, Stanton led his league nine times in various offensive categories. Since arriving in New York, he has led the majors zero times.
Appearing in only eighteen games last year, Stanton went from one injury to another, with several interruptions in rehab tries. He’s “on the way” was the Yankee’s refrain whenever asked.
In ten seasons as a major league player, Stanton has averaged only 110 game appearances.
2019 was not an aberration, but more of a recognition that Stanton’s body does not fit with baseball, and perhaps he is better suited as a forward in the NBA or a tight end in the NFL.
And so, the Yankees begin the 2020 season with a wish and a prayer that one-third (counting Hicks) of their lineup can stay healthy, despite track records that prove otherwise.
Are the Yankees stubborn or stupid
If you don’t play, you can’t produce. And if you don’t deliver, what value are you to your team?
It can be said with confidence that Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Gio Urshela carried the Yankees offensively last year. Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge had supporting roles, but mainly it was from these three players where situational hitting and run production was generated.
It can happen again in 2020. These players are good enough to repeat what they did in 2019. But why do the Yankees insist on burdening the team in this way?
A decade from now, the Yankees will have the full record to go by for all three players. Their patience with Stanton, Sanchez, and Hicks is admirable.
But their stance may also be judged as stupid down the road. Albert Einstein argued that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Nothing better defines the path the Yankees are taking in thinking (some say hoping) that Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks will each play in 145 games or more – in the same season…
Here’s a video of what Tanner Swanson will be attempting to drill into the head of Gary Sanchez – good stuff for baseball enthusiasts.