New York Yankees‘ catcher Gary Sanchez took the first pitch he saw in the 2021 MLB season to deep left field for a towering two-run home run against the Blue Jays. Sanchez’s home run ended up being the Yankees’ only offensive production, as the team fell 3-2 to the visitors in extra innings.
The Opening Day loss was unfortunate, however, Gary Sanchez’s home run is a huge positive storyline for the Yankees. As we all know, the past three seasons haven’t been kind to Sanchez, as he’s bat just .200 since the beginning of the 2018 season with an OPS of just .748. However, Sanchez’s quick 2021 start seems encouraging that he could finally bust out of his three-year slump.
As the great Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” This applies to Gary Sanchez, as his mindset and approach were likely the culprits of his previous struggles. Sanchez’s offensive potential has never been in question, as he managed to slug 34 home runs despite playing in just 106 games in 2019.
Previous seasons have seen Sanchez get off to a slow start and never really recover. For example, Sanchez hit just .202 in April of 2018 en route to a .186 average on the season. In April of 2019, Sanchez bat .233, around where he’d finish on the season.
What this all means is that the first month of each season is typically telling for Sanchez. If he gets off to a hot start, he stays hot, and vice versa. Seeing Sanchez hit a home run in his first at-bat of the season is an enormous confidence boost. Now he can’t go up to the plate with the mindset that he’ll get out every time. After the home run, Sanchez came up to the plate again and hit a hard groundball that he was able to beat out for a single. That just shows that confidence is everything.
Gary Sanchez’s performance against the Blue Jays on Thursday was highly encouraging despite the loss. Hopefully, Sanchez can build off his strong start and have a career year for the Yankees.