New York Yankees: Yankee manager Aaron Boone sends mixed messages about Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez
Mar 31, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) reacts after a strikeout during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have come a long way in this 2020 shortened season since the loss of 15 of 20 games.  One thing that has not changed is Gary Sanchez’s season has been a mess.  Not only has he been miserable at hitting the ball, but his previously improved defense of the backstop position has also fallen off. Last year he had 7 passed balls. In this short season, he has 5 already.  Equating that to a regular 162 game season, that is 13.5 passed balls.  His batting average has increased considerably from .119 to .142, still the worse batting average of his five-year career.

One thing that has not wavered, is the New York Yankees undying support of Sanchez. They have continued to concentrate on his promise and not his performance.  That is, until recently. For the first time, there may be a crack in that blind support.  Aaron Boone, Yankee manager, has said of the postseason catcher selection, that it will be a “day to day” decision. In view of the association of pitcher and catcher relations and success of the Cole and Higashioka pairing, it seems almost a surety that “Higgy” will be catching Cole’s starts in the postseason.

The day to day wording would indicate that Sanchez will not be the automatic catcher in other games as well.  Which makes sense, Higashioka has a batting average of more than 100 points higher than Sanchez and is an excellent defender. Sanchez has always been heralded for his rocket of an arm and caught stealing percentage, but the fact is that Higashioka this year has a caught stealing percentage ten points higher than Sanchez.

Sanchez, on August 30, had a walk-off Grand Slam to win the game for the Yankees.  Most often than not, Sanchez has come up to bat and struck out, leaving Yankees on base. Several times with the bases loaded.  Last night in an odd move, manager Boone sent Sanchez out to pinch-hit in the eighth inning for Higashioka.  Yes, he hit a long ball but failed to get the job done like he has so many times this season, leaving the bases loaded with Yankees. If Higashioka had been left in, he might have gotten a single driving in a couple of runs, bringing them within one of the Jays.  Of course, that is speculation, but the stats show that is more the likelihood than Sanchez being successful.

For the most part, Sanchez has just taken up space in the lineup and has struck out 61 times, In a regular season, that is the worse strikeout rate of his career.  So to sum it up, this season, he has his lowest batting average, near the most passed balls in his career, and a constantly declining caught stealing record.  The Yankees have always sighted his talent and promise, but his performance after five years is going in the opposite direction.

With the postseason upon us, one has to wonder how much faith the New York Yankees will place in Sanchez in key situations.  If he doesn’t perform well in the rounds of the postseason, what will his future be with the Yankees?. He had only one good year back in 2017.  How long will the Yankees continue to watch for Sanchez to fulfill his potential?

I wish the absolute best for Sanchez and his success. I am not a Sanchez hater, but like many Yankee fans and followers, I have lost a lot of faith in Gary Sanchez and his ability to right his ship.