Gary Sanchez has been one of the best catchers in baseball with the bat this season. Despite that, he has struggled at times behind the plate. The truth, however, is his bat outweighs his glove.
Struggles and Strengths Defensively
Some argue that the most important position on a baseball field is the catcher’s position and that if you have a strong catcher, you should have a solid defense. Behind the plate, Sanchez has a WAR (wins above replacement) of .6 which is not what you are looking for in a strong defensive catcher. Players like Salvador Perez, who is considered one of the best catchers in baseball, has a defensive WAR of 1.1.
Sanchez’s struggles at blocking pitches have been documented quite often throughout the season and have become a problem for the young catcher. Sanchez has allowed 47 wild pitches and leads the American league with 15 passed balls. But what Sanchez lacks in the ability to block the ball he makes up for with other important elements behind the plate.
Sanchez has a catcher’s ERA of 3.49 which is lower than the MLB average of 4.16. Now although some may argue that catchers ERA isn’t a relevant stat, it does show that Sanchez is able to call a quality game for his pitchers. Sanchez also has a fielding percentage of .986% which is only .5% less than what he had in a short amount of time in 2016. Sanchez also has a cannon for an arm and he throws baserunners out 37% of the time, well above the league average of 26%.
So when looking at it, his only hole defensively in blocking balls in the dirt. That is something that can be fixed.
Sanchez leads all catchers in home runs (30), RBIs (83) and slugging percentage (.539). He ranks fourth with 115 hits and is second with a .280 batting average and OBP of .350 behind Buster Posey.
Offensively, Sanchez’s WAR is at 3.8. That alone shows that his bat is right up there with the best players in baseball. If there was a team that had Gary Sanchez in every slot in the lineup, he would create 6.8 runs per game. Just sit there and think about having nine Gary Sanchez’s in your team’s lineup and the damage that would create.
In his first 162 games in the Major Leagues, Sanchez is hitting.285 with 50 home runs and 125 RBIs. These numbers are crazy and the chances of Sanchez playing in 162 games are slim to none especially considering that he did miss a month this season and managers today rarely let players get anywhere near the 162 game mark, especially catchers.
The biggest thing that gets lost when talking about Sanchez is the fact that he is only in his first full season in the majors. Sanchez is still young and will develop behind the plate. It’s unfair to make him your DH right now in his career and the only way he’ll get better defensively is by repetition. He has gotten better as of late and if Joe Girardi doesn’t trust Sanchez in the 9th inning of a big game, he could always bring in Austin Romine for defense if he feels so inclined.
No matter how you look at it, Sanchez’s offense makes up for his defense and taking him out of the starting lineup would be foolish.
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