Gary Sanchez’s hot streak could not have come at a better time for the New York Yankees.
The 24-year-old hit another home run last night, his 21st of the season, and the Bronx Bombers swept their crosstown rival New York Mets in the Yankee Stadium half of this year’s Subway Series. Sanchez also had an RBI single and boosted his batting average to .277 on the year.
If Sanchez can keep up this kind of streak, New York’s chances of securing a playoff spot will increase tremendously and make the Yankees look like more than a team that backed into the postseason just to make up the numbers.
2017 has not been the kindest to Sanchez. After bursting onto the scene with 20 home runs in just 53 games played last year, he injured his biceps muscle in April and missed close to a month of action.
Sanchez has also faced heavy criticism over his defense, so much so I penned an article about how a move to first base might be in his future. Even manager Joe Girardi was so dissatisfied with Sanchez behind the dish that he banished him to the DH spot.
Sanchez batting just .231 in July did not help matters. He was striking out on bad pitches and not taking nearly enough walks, so there were sneaking suspicions that his red-hot bat last year was just a fluke and opposing teams had figured him out.
The Sanchez redemption
Sanchez is proving the critics wrong now. Not only does he have five home runs in August, but he is hitting a tremendous .341 with a .415 OBP. His OPS is an eye-popping 1.165. His batting average over the last week is an even .400, with four home runs and seven RBI over that stretch.
This hot bat is what Yankees management was hoping would be a consistent presence all season long. Sanchez became a household name with that bat last year and 2017 brought hope for continued success.
It’s also worth noting that since slugging outfielder Aaron Judge’s struggles since the All-Star break have yet to subside, New York was missing a powerful bat in the middle of the order. Between Judge and Sanchez both struggling the Yankees’ offense was moving along at a snail’s pace and keeping the Bronx Bombers out of games that were otherwise winnable.
Things can now finally change for the better since Sanchez appears to have found his stroke at the plate. New York has looked more confident as a team in the first half of the Subway Series, playing with a chip on its collective shoulder after a series win against the Boston Red Sox was snatched away at the last moment.
This doesn’t mean that Sanchez will hit at his current pace for the rest of the season. Baseball is baseball and most hot streaks eventually come to an end.
But the heart of the matter is that the Yankees’ offense is all the better with Sanchez hitting at his best. The rest of the team can rally behind him en route to a playoff berth and if the Yankees can be in full swing at that point, the rest of the postseason squads had better hope for the best.
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