New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez might have hit .147 last year and recorded a negative WAR, but that didnâ€™t scare slugger Aaron Judge away from making a bold comment about his teammate.
Sanchez has been on the decline for a few seasons now, seeing his defense drop off significantly and his offense remain volatile. While heâ€™s capable of hitting 30+ homers in any given season, he scarcely makes contact and strikes out an exorbitant amount. Last season, he recorded a career-high 36% strike out right and career-low on-base percentage.
However, Sanchez has worked diligently to improve this off-season, and Judge has been there every step of the way.
â€œGaryâ€™s a guy that can go out there and win AL MVP…”
Quite the bold projection so early in spring training.
â€œSeeing those improvements, those changes, has been huge,â€ Judge told reporters on Saturday.
â€œSeeing the changes he was trying to make with his swing to shorten up and make better contact, be more consistent,â€ Judge said. â€œFrom day one, the first day of the offseason, he was already trying to make changes. And it was pretty amazing to to see the improvement he made in just a short amount of time.â€
The Yankees need both Judge and Sanchez to rid themselves of their demons:
Sanchez is capable of having that offensive impact, as we saw in 2017 when he hit 33 homers and recorded a .278 average. His regression is primarily mental, but changing his fundamentals and tweaking things to perfect his swing is never a bad idea. Sanchez often gets down on himself as he hangs his head after each strikeout, but thatâ€™s part of baseball, and you have to return with a clear memory.
â€œSomething thatâ€™s always impressed me is, heâ€™s a hard worker,â€ Judge said. â€œI donâ€™t think he gets enough credit for the amount of work and the amount of hours he puts in at his craft. So, itâ€™s exciting to see the success heâ€™s having so far in spring training.â€