After what was a brutal 2018 season that saw him hit .186 in just 89 games, Gary Sanchez’s name hit the “rumor block” this past offseason. Now, the Yankees really never had any intentions of dealing him despite numerous teams calling to check in on the availability of the 26-year old. Early on into the 2019 campaign — it seems to be paying off.
If you’re a little late on the news, Gary Sanchez went off Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, smashing his way to a three-homer/six-RBI performance as the Yankees finished off a sweep of the Orioles. Now totaling six long balls on the season, Sanchez now leads the American league.
It cannot be stated enough how impactful a healthy and productive Gary Sanchez could be to this Yankee team — as shown in the 15-3 route yesterday. Despite the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, and others being sidelined to the Injured List, this Yankee offense is still more than capable of putting up double-digits day in and out.
For Sanchez, however, it was only a matter of time before he started seeing results at the plate. Headed into Sunday, Gary led baseball in xwOBA (Expected Weighted On-Base Average). If you aren’t familiar with xwOBA, here’s a basic tidbit of what it is (provided by MLB.com).
“Expected Weighted On-base Average (xwOBA) is formulated using exit velocity, launch angle and, on certain types of batted balls, Sprint Speed.”
Basically, it calculates a hitter’s pure skill at the plate, focusing solely on the quality of contact. In Gary’s case, he has been hitting the balls a LOT better than the results are showing, up until Sunday that is. Now, entering Monday, his slash line is finally starting to trend in the right direction. In eight games, he’s slashing .250/.333/.813 with a wRC+ of 215.
Now healthy again, both Judge and Sanchez should continue the impressive offensive success they’ve seen thus far into their big league career. As for Judge, he put on quite the show himself Saturday night, driving two long home runs to center field for his first long balls on the season.
Let’s not forget that this lineup used to heavily rely on just Aaron Judge and Sanchez to provide the team’s power and drive in runs — a team that made it to game seven of the ALCS against the eventual World Champion Houston Astros.
After finishing off the sweep Sunday afternoon, the Yankees are now headed to Houston to take on those Astros in what is the Yankees’ first series against a formidable opponent in 2019. Game one is set to be a dandy with Masahiro Tanaka facing off against Justin Verlander.