Pinstripe Preview: Gary Sanchez

When you think about the Yankees youth movement, there’s no doubt that Gary Sanchez is one of the first names that comes to mind. While fans should be excited to see players like Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Clint Frazier, and even Jorge Mateo at the big leagues this year, everyone is looking forward to seeing what Sanchez can do in his first season as the Yankee catcher. After the Yankees traded Brian McCann to the Astros this winter making Sanchez the full time starting catcher, there is no doubt that the 24-year-old will look to build on his historic rookie season.
Photo Credit: Steve Nesius | AP

2016 Review
As I just mentioned, Sanchez has an absolutely incredible rookie season. In just 53 games, Sanchez hit to a very impressive .299/.376/.657 (1.032 OPS) slash line with 20 homers. He logged only 201 at-bats, but nearly stole the Rookie of the Year award away from Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers as he finished second in the voting. While he dominated at the plate, Sanchez also excelled defensively.

Defensively, Sanchez threw out 13 of the 32 runners attempting to test his arm. Throwing out 41% of base stealers was a positive sign for Yankees fans, as the league average for catchers was just 29% of base runners.

After his 2016 campaign, many have already dubbed Sanchez as the leader of the youth movement, and for good reason. Sanchez looks as though he could be the Yankee catcher for years to come, being a staple in the middle of the Yankee lineup.
Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri
2017 Preview
Following last year’s output, everyone is wondering what Sanchez is capable of in a full season. Sanchez has picked up where he left off last season this spring. In 10 games, Sanchez has four home runs with 10 RBI and is hitting .345. He also hit a home run in an exhibition game against Canada, technically putting his spring homers at five to this point. Still, Sanchez can't be expected to maintain this pace heading into the season.

Will Sanchez hit .300 with 50 home runs in 140 games? Frankly, no. The fact of the matter is, it is unreasonable for fans to look at Sanchez as the frontrunner for MVP while hitting at least 50 home runs. With that said, it absolutely is not unreasonable to look for Sanchez to hit between 30-35 bombs, while also hitting in the .270 range.

Sanchez was a prospect who had plenty of ups and downs. Last season was thought of as being a make or break season for him, and he made the most of it. Being in the Yankees system and being considered as a top prospect since 2011, it was about time Sanchez made his impact on the big league team last year. Upon being called up, he was in the zone at the plate, and while that pace simply will not continue in 2017, Sanchez will have lofty expectations hitting in the three-hole.

With Brian McCann and Austin Romine also seeing time at catcher last season, Sanchez played 17 games at designated hitter, while catching 36. With McCann gone, Sanchez will be the team’s every day catcher, but he should have starts at DH as well when Romine gets his occasional start.

This year is the first season of the Yankee youth movement, and with young talent already at the big leagues, as well as a plethora of talent in the minors waiting in the wings, Sanchez will be looked at as the leader of the Yankee youth movement going forward.

Article by: Chad Raines

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