Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, of all of New York’s young sports stars, Kristaps Porzingis, Landon Collins, and Jimmy Vesey; has the brightest spotlight on him. Sanchez fixed that bright light upon himself with an impressive rookie year, but he may have a secret weapon the others don’t have for a follow-up.
Former Yankees catcher, Brian McCann, is very often one of the first players mentioned when discussing the best leaders in baseball, especially among catchers. When McCann came to the Yankees so did veteran leadership and a rallying voice within the clubhouse. But the language of baseball has changed.
Many teams within Major League Baseball are filled with international talent more so than any time in the past. The commonality between most of the international players is language, and that language is Spanish.
The Yankees are no exception to the wave of Latin American players, and nothing was more symbolic of the times than last year’s changing of the guard between a perennial All-Star leader in McCann, for a talented young Dominican named Gary Sanchez. Yes, Sanchez hit 20 home runs in 53 games; yes, he shows power not many players do; yes, he might be the best defensive catcher in baseball. But Sanchez’s contributions are far from those limited to the statistics.
Baseball may be America’s past-time, but it now comes with Spanish subtitles.
Dellin Betances, Luis Cessa, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, and Aroldis Chapman, are all pretty important to the Yankees’ success, right? It shouldn’t be much of a spoiler alert, but all of them speak Spanish. By no means is it a stretch to say Sanchez communicating more fluidly with the pitching staff will reap greater benefits.
Not only does greater communication with the rotation and bullpen lead to more statistical success but it brings the team as a whole closer together. Not many everyday players are usually the most commanding voice among pitchers, but Sanchez has the personality and lead by example qualities to do just that.
Sanchez’s on-field accomplishments are awesome but he very well could become the next Yankee captain with his follow me into battle mentality. Being vocal is not the only criteria, though. Sanchez has already shown great dedication and work ethic by forgoing playing for his home country in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
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Everyone knew how important it was to Sanchez to represent D.R. and try to will his country to back to back WBC titles, but the Yankees came first before his own wishes.
Of the top reasons for Gary Sanchez missing the WBC was to learn the pitching staff. As opposed to Brian McCann, Sanchez has spent time in the Yankees minor league system. That time together lends itself to the improved chemistry between the Yankee catcher and the pitchers having played together prior to the season.
Add in the communication factor of common language and Sanchez should be much more comfortable with which pitches to call when and with whom. Sanchez will also better know how to motivate and coddle each individual pitcher when necessary.
Not to call McCann a stick in the mud or a buzz kill, but Gary Sanchez has a younger mentality when it comes to the game of baseball. To call Sanchez less of a stickler for the unwritten and traditional rules of the game would be the understatement of the year. Gary relates to the non-Spanish speaking players as well as Latin players which was something McCann never seemed to accomplish.
Gary Sanchez has a ton of impressive elements to his game, just don’t downplay the common bond between him and his pitching staff and it’s effect on the overall chemistry of the team. Baseball may be America’s past-time, but it now comes with Spanish subtitles.