Gary Sanchez is one of the most polarizing players on the New York Yankees, but when heâ€™s playing well, there might not be a better catcher in baseball. It is difficult to find elite hitting catchers at the major league level, and Sanchez offers that when on a hot streak, similar to what heâ€™s produced over the past few weeks.
The Dominican Republic native has recorded a .333 average, including seven hits, three home runs, and six RBIs over his last 21 at-bats (last seven games). He has struck out just four times in that timeframe, indicating a massive increase in efficiency and production.
In fact, Sanchez’s last 15 games are equally as impressive, hitting .315, with 17 hits, five homers, and 12 RBIs. On the season, he currently hosts a .237 average with a .820 OPS. You might not find another catcher as hot as Gary right now, and skipper Aaron Boone has waited quite some time to rave about his progression, despite facing serious issues over the past few years.
â€œNow youâ€™re seeing a real quiet lower half and a more balanced hitter,â€™â€™ Boone said. â€œHeâ€™s just in a much different place than he was a month ago.â€
Sanchez has worked tirelessly to improve his batting stance and fundamentals, keying in on the ball and developing his swing with muscle memory.
â€œThe major league season can be such a grind, itâ€™s hard to make real significant mechanical changes â€¦ and heâ€™s made those,â€™â€™ Boone said. â€œHe had that big leg kick he would hold in the air and think it was destroying his timing and causing him to miss some pitches he should be on.â€
The Yankees have found the solution to Sanchez’s batting issues:
We all remember the leg kick that Sanchez produced, trying to put more power behind his swings. Ultimately, the kick was never necessary, as Gary has plenty of power to get the ball over the fence using his upper body and a strong base. Slugger Aaron Judge faced a similar problem but has since lowered his leg kick and developed into a superior hitter as well.
The primary question is if Sanchez can continue dominating in this fashion, or will teams find another weakness in his game? A lot of Sanchez’s success depends on his confidence, so as long as he can continue hitting and making solid contact, we should expect to see a better version of the 28-year-old catcher. He is currently on a one-year, $6.35 million deal for the season, but heâ€™s a free agent in 2023 and arbitration-eligible next off-season.
Depending on how the rest of the campaign unfolds, the Yankees will have a big decision on Sanchez, whether or not he has earned a long-term extension or another one-year deal in arbitration.