The recently released PECOTA projections from Baseball Prospectus have come as a saving grace in an offseason with very little to talk about. With the offseason landscape frozen over, we can at least turn our attention to what we think is to come this spring.
Of all the Yankees, the PECOTA projections were particularly friendly to Gary Sanchez. Fresh off his first All-Star season, one where he slugged 33 dingers despite missing a month of the season, Sanchez has an even brighter forecast. He is projected to hit a career-high 34 homers and accrue 4.4 WAR. His projected 97 RBI would be the second-highest on the team, only behind Giancarlo Stanton.
Of course, these projections shouldn’t come as a surprise, at least not to those who have watched Sanchez since his historic rookie season. A similar ascension by Aaron Judge may have distracted some from Sanchez’s sophomore season, which showed that the 25-year-old is here to stay.
For the second-straight year, Sanchez was a hitting machine. Highlighted by another monster August, he finished with an OPS+ of 126 while maintaining consistent success against right-handed pitching — .874 OPS against righties, compared to .882 against southpaws. His value to the Yankees was also shown in his production away from Yankee Stadium, in the form of a 136 wRC+ on the road, compared to a 123 mark in the Bronx.
Had Sanchez not missed a month early in the season due to a biceps injury, he would have easily flirted with a 40-home run campaign. As long as health isn’t an issue, Sanchez could continue to become one of the most efficient offensive performers on the team, even if he is surrounded by the big boppers of Judge and Stanton.
One of the vocal concerns for Judge and other Baby Bombers is the fear of regression. Sanchez is a beacon of hope when it comes to that; he’s an antidote for the sophomore slump. His 2017 season proved that the young Yankees can continue to improve in their second season. If his splendid follow-up campaign doesn’t provide any relief in concerns to how youngsters like Judge will fare in 2018, at least Sanchez has proven himself to have staying power.
Consecutive powerhouse seasons by Sanchez should be enough to eliminate a fear of regression. He has shown he can hit at an elite level against all pitching and all ballparks. At such a young age, he can continue to get even better at the plate — and behind it. When it comes to regression, the PECOTA projections agree that there’s nothing to worry about with Sanchez.