Despite an ugly, injury-riddled regular season, Gary Sanchez could be the most crucial player on the Yankees if they intend on collecting their 28th title.
It wasn’t too long ago that Gary Sanchez took the league by storm as the best story in baseball, smashing 20 home runs in just 53 games in 2016. Following placing second in AL ROY voting, Gary was looked at as a prime piece of what would become a new core in the Bronx alongside Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and others.
However, the emergence of Judge’s historic 52-homer rookie campaign in 2017 rightfully overshadowed what was a very successful follow-up season offensively for Sanchez. In 122 games, he slashed .278/.345/.531 with 33 long balls and 90 RBI which officially established him among the best backstops in baseball. At the time.
Heading into 2018, Gary was labeled as a sleeper pick behind Judge and offseason acquisition Giancarlo Stanton to win MVP of the American League. Unfortunately, numerous stints on the disabled list and a poor showing at the plate led him to a .186/.291/.406 slash with 18 homers in just 89 games.
But it doesn’t end there. Gary let up a career-high and league-worst 18 passed balls behind the plate which occurred in a mere 76 games behind the plate. All this turmoil brought up a conversation amongst fans and analyst of whether Sanchez or Romine should get the start behind the plate for the AL Wild Card game and the postseason as a whole.
Fortunately, Boone showed faith in his catcher like he had all season long. Faith that paid dividends for a Yankee team in game two of the ALDS that needed a win. After being slotted up to fifth in the order, Sanchez delivered a crucial offensive performance that ultimately won the Yankees the game over David Price and the Red Sox.
In the top of the second, Gary slung a 399 FT solo shot to left-center field, continuing his success off Price to extend the Yankee lead to 2-0. Then five innings later, he’d smash a three-run blast off Eduardo Rodriguez to all but finalize what would be a huge victory for the Yankees.
Gary Sanchez with 7 career hits off David Price
6 of those hits are DINGERS. pic.twitter.com/CkF64n4vD6
— #BeatBoston (@itsevandaniel) October 7, 2018
Moving forward, if Gary Sanchez’s potent bat can be a steady presence for the first time in a year’s worth of playing time, the Yankees’ lineup holds unheard of potential. Not to mention the show that Aaron Judge has out on thus far, posting a 2.060 OPS in 14 postseason plate appearances. And with home field advantage now in the Yankees’ favor, it’s hard to deny Aaron Boone’s club has the upper hand.