In recent memory, check that – in the four plus decades I’ve been following the Yankees, most of which I remember despite not knowing what day it is most of the time – I’ve never come across a player as frustrating to watch as Gary Sanchez. I say that personally and as an unscientific observer of fans and media who follow the Yankees.
I’ll be so bold as to speak for many Yankee fans who. at times, have seen Sanchez throw and hit and have enshrined him in Cooperstown already.
Alternately, the same fans have watched the same player fumble amateurishly behind the plate and in the batter’s box and wondered how he made it to the big leagues.
Well I’m here today to tell you dear Yankee family that not only are you stuck with Gary Sanchez, you should be happy about it.
Let’s start with his overall performance since exploding on to the scene in mid-season, 2016. Since then there have been 26 (twenty-six) catchers who have played at least 350 games with more than two-thirds of them at catcher.
Among those 26, Sanchez is first in OPS+, wRC+, and 5th in WAR. For those of you not into the not-so new metrics, that means he’s been the best offensive catcher in baseball (yes, I checked twice – better than Realmuto, Grandal, and Contreras) and 5th in overall value.
Defense you ask? Every group of smart people that measures such things admits that measuring defense, especially catchers’ defense, is an imperfect process. That said, all have Sanchez a tick below average overall when throwing, blocking and framing are all factored.
You: “I’d like it if he were more consistent.”
Me: “I’d like it if my hairline returned.”
Allow me to remind you of two matters, dear reader:
First, as much as we’d like every .300 hitter to get a hit three out of every ten at bats, it doesn’t work that way. Players who hit 30 home runs don’t hit 5 every month and pitchers with a 3.00 ERA don’t allow 3 runs every 9 innings. Baseball is hard – very, very hard – and being consistent is virtually impossible. Frankly, consistent is a very relative term in baseball.
Secondly, in baseball, teams need to play the long game. Any team can beat any other team 4 out of 7 occasionally, and best 3 out of 5 series aren’t exactly toss-ups but they’ll do until the toss-up arrives. The best strategy is to be good over 6 months and thereby give yourself a chance by being in that 3 out of, 4 out of 7 position.
To that end, you’re not going to do much better than Gary Sanchez as your catcher over the long haul, despite the ups and downs. And considering that he’s 27 and likely to improve, and the Yankees can underpay him for two more years, you’re going to need to be OK with him Yankee fans.
My advice? Make friends with the Kraken. Enjoy the waves.
Did I miss something? Let me know.
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