2. Gary Sanchez (2015-Present)
Gary Sanchez had a great deal of potential as a young catcher. However, he never performed up to his full athletic ability.
After playing only a couple of games in 2015, Sanchez busted out of the gate in 2016. Despite playing in only 53 games that year, he came in second in voting for the Rookie of the Year and slugged 20 homers.
Sanchez built on his debut in 2016 with a solid performance in 2017. However, he regressed substantially in 2018, had a rollercoaster 2019, and backslid massively again in 2020. Given this varied pattern (and the fact that 2020 was a shortened season), he was expected to have a great 2021 season.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. This past year the Kraken hit .204/.307/.423 with 23 home runs and a 99 wRC+. Further, he finished 17th among catchers in FanGraphs WAR with 1.5.
And Sanchez’s fielding has left plenty to be desired. FanGraphs assigned him a slightly positive Defensive Fielding and Positional Adjustment score of 3.5, which ranked him 21st among the 30 backstops to have 300 or more plate appearances. Disappointingly, he was in the 17th percentile in Framing, per Statcast and Baseball Prospectus measures.
Despite his raw talent, his overall performance statistics depict a below-average catcher on both offense and defense. Equally worrisome, at least two established starting pitchers this year (Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber) did not want him to catch for them when it was their turn on the mound.
What do they know that GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone don’t?
The Bombers should have ended the Sanchez experiment following the 2020 season but didn’t. They could’ve traded him after 2019 when the warning signs popped up again. They didn’t.
They already had enough data to indicate that he would never live up to expectations. Excuses and rationalizations for his inferior play, often voiced by Boone (Sanchez’s Panglossian), only exacerbated the situation because there was no accountability. The club waited too long to address the team’s deficiency behind the plate, and now they’re likely stuck with him and his bloated salary for 2022.