Yankees: Gary Sanchez will make history in 2018

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Gary Sanchez
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Gary Sanchez /

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez set the Bronx ablaze in 2016 when he broke an 86-year-old record. A rookie bashing 20 homers in 51 games will quickly make a fan favorite, but Sanchez isn’t ‘The Guy,’ yet.

Aaron Judge‘s sick ‘Judgian’ swing has earned him the face of the New York Yankees. Joining Judge and Gary Sanchez in 2018 will be NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who will undoubtedly steal headlines.

Playing in the shadow of Judge and Stanton could mean big things for the 25-year-old slugger.  Sanchez was expected to be the Yankees’ premier source of power in 2017; now he’ll play a supporting role.

Judge and Stanton are expected to bat second and third… or third and fourth in the ’18 lineup. This will leave Sanchez presumably shuffling lineup spots with lefty power bats Didi Gregorius and Greg Bird.

Debating what the Yanks’ lineup has always been a fun enigma for fans. As for me, I would bat Sanchez fifth behind Judge, Stanton and Gregorius.

By The Numbers

Sanchez still had an All-Star season last year, but some can argue he went through a sophomore slump.  An injury slowed down his start, but the Yankees surged without him at a 16-2 record.

More from Yankees News

In his 229 plate appearances in 2016, he belted 20 homers with a three slash of .299/.376/..657. In his 525 plate appearances in 2017, he belted 33 homers with a three slash of .278/.345/.531.

Patience is a virtue, and we fans must continue to be patient with Sanchez as he continues to develop. There will be ups and downs throughout his career, but I expect a HUGE 2018 season from the star.

The Stars Are Aligned

Literally, the stars are aligned in the Yankees stacked lineup. Judge, Stanton, Gregorius, Sanchez, Bird on paper appears to be a new version of Murderer’s Row.

However, I expect Judge’s ridiculous power numbers to decline a little this season. And Stanton will be ‘The Guy’ to watch in ’18 after hitting 59 homers for the Miami Marlins.

This leaves Sanchez in a position to have less pressure on his shoulders, and hopefully more opportunities. Should opposing pitchers pitch around Sanchez? Yes, but they may not have a choice if they want to register outs.

With Sanchez entering his third year in the league, I expect him to break the AL catcher home run record. Hall of Famer, Iván ‘Pudge’ Rodríguez whacked 35 homers in 1999 for the Texas Rangers to set the record. Besides Sanchez, only Charles Johnson has come close, hitting 31 homers in 2000 for the Orioles and White Sox.

Honestly, if Sanchez didn’t miss a month of action last year, he would have broken the 19-year-old record. Look for ’18 to be the year Sanchez cements his stardom as the elite power-hitting catcher of the league.

But What About His Defense?

I recently mentioned Sanchez’s New Year’s resolution for 2018 should be to improve his fielding.  He’s slimming down to improve his core with the help of Yankees Strength And Conditioning Coach Matt Krause.

But I don’t expect this to decrease Sanchez’s power. It will instead improve his all-around game, and it could even elevate Sanchez to a Gold Glove contender. I know, I’m crazy for predicting Sanchez will contend for a Gold Glove, but he already has an elite arm.

Next: The Yankees don't need Yu Darvish

If Sanchez develops his fielding a bit more and plays a full season, he’s easily an MVP candidate.