NY Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has tantalized fans with what he can do with his bat.
He’s teased us off and on over the past four years, but Sanchez has yet to play in more than 122 games or see more than 525 plate appearances. In the season he did, 2017, he knocked out 33 homers, drove on 90 runs, and accumulated 4.3 Wins Above Replacement.
Last year, he hit one more home run than in 2017 and had 77 RBI in 16 fewer games.
What would a full, healthy season look like for Gary Sanchez and the Yankees?
Looking at Sanchez’s 162-game averages on his Baseball-Reference page gives us a glimpse. They show him hitting 46 home runs, scoring 98 runs, and driving in 114 runs. Those are pretty awesome numbers!
Of course, catchers aren’t ever going to play 162 games, even if they see 20 or so of those at designated hitter. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to expect 150 games from Sanchez between catcher and DH. This would result in about 635 at-bats.
There is no mistake about it – Gary Sanchez is a power hitter. According to Fangraphs, for his career, 40.7 percent of his batted balls are flyballs, and 25.7 percent of his flyballs are home runs. Also, only 19.2 percent of his batted balls are hit softly.
Generally speaking, when Sanchez hits a ball, he hits it hard and usually in the air. In 2019, his flyball ratio, his home run to flyball ratio, and his hard-hit ball ratio were all over his career numbers. Now you see why he hit 34 dingers in just 106 games.
Another interesting note about Sanchez is that in his four seasons, his batting average on balls in play is all over the place. Historically, right around .300 is the major league average. Below are his BABIP numbers for his four seasons:
- 2016 BABIP – .317, overall batting average – .299
- 2017 BABIP – .304, overall batting average – .278
- 2018 BABIP – .197, overall batting average – .186
- 2019 BABIP – .244, overall batting average – .232
In the last two seasons, if the ball didn’t go out of the park, Sanchez had trouble getting on base.
For a baseline, his 2017 season looks like a decent place to start. Surely, he is due for some significant improvements over the last two campaigns. Since he tends not to hit the ball softly, it means he has had horrible luck in the last two years.
If he can hit into better luck, continue to avoid soft contact, maintain his flyball and home to flyball ratios, and not stray too far from his career strikeout rate (25.2 percent) and his walk rate (9.5 percent), Sanchez should be able to put up stats closer to that 2017 season.
If he can play in 150 games as opposed to 122, as he did in 2017, he would be a downright beast. Of course, ‘if’ is a big word. Sanchez has to find a way to stay healthy.
Again, imagine a world where Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton were all healthy, playing every day, and firing with all pistons. The Yankees would have three players hitting around 45 homers and driving in 100-plus. This was probably that the plan when the Yankees signed Stanton before the 2018 season.
Let’s just say, this offense would be scary, like Freddie Kruger scary. Opposing pitchers would flee in terror.
Who knows what will happen with baseball in 2020. Maybe (hopefully) we’ll see games somewhere this season. If not, the NY Yankees can gear up for 2021 and work to keep this terrible trio of Sanchez, Judge, and Stanton healthy and productive. Everyone is just waiting to see what kind of hitter Gary Sanchez could be as an every-day hitter. Just imagine it!