NEW YORK — Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez was named American League Player of the Week on Monday after putting together a .524/.600/1.190 slash line to go with 11 hits, four of which were home runs, in his last six games.
Sanchez, 23, was called up to the big leagues on August 3 and has assumed the team’s starting catching role — his 15 complete games behind the plate is evidence that he’s supplanted seven-time All-Star Brian McCann.
And as good as he’d been at the plate, he’s been strong behind it, too; Sanchez has thrown out four of six would-be base-stealers, a 67 percent success rate. (McCann has thrown out just 23 percent of runners.)
El Gary has been better that every bit of hype we’ve heard over the years. There have even been times on podcasts and radio that I questioned if he even existed. In 2009 we heard that the Yankees signed a 16-year-old phenom who was going to be the future of the franchise, but as the years went on and we saw several catchers come through the Bronx, many of us wondered if he was just a bust we would never see.
After a strong 2010 season, it seemed like El Gary could never put together a strong enough season to move him quickly through the system and battled injuries. By 2013 Sanchez was still in Single-A and 22 but there were questions about his defense and if he would be able to serve as an everyday major league catcher despite having a plus arm.
Fast forward to spring training this year and the backup job was his to lose. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what he did. With an .091 batting average with just 1 extra base hit, and Austin Romine putting up career best numbers, the team had no choice but to send him to AAA.
Something has changed though. El Gary has worked at his defensive mechanics and pitch framing, while dramatically cutting down his strikeouts. As a result, Sanchez is the hottest player in the game right now and looks like the real deal. This is just a small sample size but if this is just a taste, it looks like our defense and lineup will be anchored by a stud.
PS: El Gary and Judge shirts are coming.