Yankees must work with Gary Sanchez on the mental part of his game
The Yankees must work with Gary Sanchez on his mental approach to the game if the team hopes to successfully maximize his full potential as both an offensive and defensive baseball player.
For those of us who follow baseball and especially the Yankees closely, Gary Sanchez is an enigma.
During the 2017 season, Sanchez had 471 at-bats, hit 33 home runs, had 90 RBIs and a .278 batting average, and earned a .876 OPS. Last year, in 881 innings, he was guilty of 16 passed balls. However, his rocket arm nailed 38 percent of runners trying to steal a base. In comparison, the league average for catchers was 27 percent in 2017.
During the 2018 season thus far, Sanchez has 245 at-bats, has hit 14 home runs, has 42 RBIs, is batting .188, and has a .699 OPS. This year, in 473 innings, he has 10 passed balls and has thrown out 26 percent of the runners trying to steal a base. At this point in the season, the league average for catchers is the same as last year, 27 percent.
(Note that he was the designated hitter in 18 games last year and in 10 games thus far this year, proportionately about the same number of games in last full season as this partially completed season.)
Sanchez is currently on the disabled list until late August or early September as a result of reinjuring his groin. Considering that he has played a proportionately similar number of innings this year (473) as last year (881) thus far, it is clear that his offensive numbers are significantly down in 2018. For example, his batting average this year is down a hefty 90 points compared to 2017.
He would have to go on an unbelievable tear at the plate during the last month of this season in order to even come close to his batting average last year. And on the defensive side, if he had not been reinstated on the disabled list, he was on a trajectory of committing 20 (or more) passed balls in 2018, all other things being equal.
So, what gives? What is going on with Gary Sanchez?
Maybe he is lazy (we have seen a lack of hustle on the base paths) and he does not care enough to want to put in the hard work necessary to improve both his offensive and defensive games.
More from Yanks Go Yard
- Blue Jays overpaying for Yankees trade target shows they’re trying too hard
- Aaron Judge’s influence on Carlos Rodón shows he’s more powerful than Yankees
- Yankees sign 2022 Red Sox reliever, invite him to spring training
- Yankees trade Lucas Luetge for 2 intriguing Braves prospects after DFA
- Never forget Miguel Andújar wrecked Yankees’ Nolan Arenado trade
Or, perhaps he is too distracted living and playing in New York. It is possible that, following his solid performance last year, he is experiencing a significant amount of pressure in 2018 to meet lofty expectations. As a consequence, he is trying too hard to meet or even exceed last year’s achievements.
Finally, there is a chance that he lacks focus and is undisciplined in his approach to the game.
Yet another troubling issue is how Sanchez gets along with the Yankees pitching staff. It is apparent that Sonny Gray does not want to pitch with Sanchez behind the plate. That’s why Aaron Boone has had Austin Romine catching when Gray takes his turn on the mound.
Sanchez’s inability to prevent passed balls, along with miscommunications involving pitch selections, can get old very quickly. If this happens, will the Yankees make Sanchez their permanent designated hitter and try to bring in a new catcher? Hopefully not, but we will have to see what happens.
Sanchez is only 25 years old and, as a young pup, he is still at the very beginning of his career. He can still improve his game and become what he is fully capable of becoming in my view, a Hall of Fame catcher.
However, I do not believe that he can make the necessary adjustments in his approach to baseball if he does not effectively change his mental state.