The 2018 season is all wrapped up for the New York Yankees, so let’s take a look at how their catchers performed this past year.
With the 2018 season in the rearview mirror, all we have left to do is reflect on this season and look forward to the next one. With this series, I’ll be grading every position from F- to A+. From the role players to the superstars, everyone deserves a season grade. So without further ado, let’s start with the men behind the plate, The catchers.
If this article was from the 2017 season, Kyle Higashioka would get an F. Higashioka only played in nine games that season and remained hitless that entire season. Higgy had and continued to have great fielding ability and awareness.
With all that being said, Higashioka was forgettable at best. Cut to the 2018 season and Kyle Higashioka had a record-breaking hitting call-up. Higgy’s first three major league hits all were home runs. The catcher joined Alfonso Soriano as the only two Yankees to homer for each of their first three career hits. Higashioka is just the ninth player since 1920 to accomplish this. A red-hot start would drop off the map fairly quickly though. Higgy’s fielding held up well but the bat died out and soon would be optioned back down to Triple-A once more.
Romine was called on to become the starting Catcher when an injury to Gary Sanchez kept him sidelined for several weeks. In that time span, Austin Romine proved to be a great Yankees back-up but didn’t quite have what it takes to be an everyday player. Romine would go an put up Career highs in nearly every category you could think off. The Catcher ended his season with a respectable .244 batting average and 10 home runs.
Romine would credit his new-found batting success to new manager Aaron Boone. “I loved it,” Romine said, of Boone’s challenge. “It wasn’t negative, like, ‘You’re not doing well and we expect you to do more.’ It was, ‘We know you can hit more than that,’ and it was positive.” Behind the plate, Romine kept a constant good performance and would go to give up 5 pass balls in his 76 starts. I would welcome another year as Romine as the Yankees back up catcher.
This next one is a doozie, Gary Sanchez had one of the biggest dropoffs I’ve seen from a star player. Sanchez would only play in 89 games due to various injuries and when he did play, he wasn’t all that good. Gary Sanchez showed signs of the great catcher from years prior but I could say that same for Greg Bird. Do I believe that Sanchez will maintain this level of bad play? No, I don’t.
With that being said though, the 2018 season of Gary Sanchez was nothing short of a disaster. Dropping his WAR (Wins Above Replacement) from a 4.1 to a 1.1 and having a batting average of .186. Sanchez could still hit the long ball, sending 18 out of the park. Anyone who watches the Yankees play has heard the phrase “Worst defensive catcher” and it’s hard to defend Sanchez when it comes to his defense. He is improving and I’m hopeful that this star can turn things around in 2019.