Gary Sánchez is the X-factor for the Yankees to win the ALDS 

As the Yankees’ regular season drew to a close, Gary Sanchez wasn’t living up to his home run call made famous by WFAN announcer John Sterling. That Gary wasn’t scary at all, whether he was in the batter’s box, or behind the plate. 

Photo Credit: New York Post
It was near understandable, seeing as Sánchez completed a D.L. stint due to a groin injury in June, missing every game from June 25th through July 20th. So, it would be easy to make a case indicating that he just wasn’t looking like his old self, if it weren’t for the fact that his average for the end of May came in at .230. Not to mention, Sánchez only logged a batting average of .186 on the season, and wasn’t playing well even before experiencing a groin injury.
But following the storied Yankees loss in Oakland in early September, in which Sánchez and Luis Severino fared terribly from a defensive standpoint, it was also understandable for fans to be angry and concerned. Going into the postseason, his teammates (many of who also recently returned from D.L. stints -- most notably Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius) were able to hit the Yankees’ way to home field advantage in the A.L. Wild Card game. Sánchez struck out 27 times just in September alone, and continued to hit into double plays. In addition, members of Yankees Twitter came for Sánchez with their torches and pitchforks after the now-famous "no hustle" game in late July, wondering if he should actually head back to the D.L.  
However, in spite of skeptics surrounding both Sánchez and Severino going into the Wild Card game, Sánchez answered the bell defensively, nearly saving Severino from runs scored by the Oakland Athletics on multiple occasions. And then, in the second game of the ALDS in Boston, Sánchez quite literally came out swinging.
In the Yankees’ 6-2 win on Saturday night, Sánchez homered twice off David Price. And while it’s a known fact of Yankees/Red Sox history that Sánchez can indeed hit Price, it was still a relief to see.
The hope is that Sánchez continues both his offensive and defensive streaks for the remainder of the ALDS. As his manager Aaron Boone said, Sánchez can carry the team from an offensive standpoint. While one player carrying a team shouldn’t be the goal, the knowledge that Sánchez has found his form and can do it if necessary is only part of what makes him the “X-Factor” in winning this series against the Red Sox. A team should take advantage of situational offense whenever possible; however, home runs, especially with RISP, obviously help.
Of course, postseason history tells us fans that should Sánchez continue on this upswing, the outcome will be good for the Yankees. In the 2017 postseason, Sánchez went 11-for-53, scored five runs, hitting three home runs and logged eight RBIs. And on that record, the Yankees continued to be within one game of advancing to the World Series. While Sánchez struck out 19 times during the 2017 postseason, strikeouts are a regular occurrence with home run hitters who swing at pitches that either result in a big hit, or a strike.
Between his historic ability to carry the Yankees’ offense and his renewed defensive focus, Sánchez continuing to contribute in the way that he did on Saturday night will make a tremendous difference in the Yankees’ road to the ALCS. Fans and coaches were expecting top-notch efforts and performances from the likes of Judge, Gregorius, Miguel Andújar and even Giancarlo Stanton in his postseason debut. However, Sánchez exceeding expectations will give the Yankees even more fuel than they planned on having. And that extra fuel, in the form of 479-foot home runs against the Red Sox, could very well make all the difference.

Article by: Mary Grace Donaldson


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