Coming off a disastrous season, Gary Sanchez is out to prove he is not the hitter we saw in 2018. Going into last year, after an impressive rookie season in 2016 in which he hit 20 home runs in 53 games and 2017 when he hit 33 home runs and knocked in 90 runs while batting .278, Sanchez was already considered one of the best hitting catchers in the league. Yet after an injury-ridden campaign, it’s safe to say some Yankees fans saw their faith in Sanchez weaken.
Well, Sanchez has come into 2019 and has done nothing but literally crush the ball. While his batting average is nothing to freak out over, you have to look deeper into Statcast to see where Sanchez’s effectiveness is truly coming from.
So far in 2019, Sanchez’s barrel percentage is 33.3%, which is in the top 1% of the league. On top of that his average exit velocity is 93.7 miles per hour which is in the top 5% of the league. Here’s a quick example to represent what Gary is doing to baseballs this year when he makes contact:
When you're lost out there and you're all alone, a Gary HR is waiting to carry you home. pic.twitter.com/vCVfG0VU9I— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 28, 2019
This ball is absolutely crushed, 430 feet deep into the bleachers at Oracle Park. You just don’t see balls hit there in that stadium. Also, if you look closely... no, actually it turns out you can’t even see the ball leave the bat as it exited at a ridiculous 111.7 miles per hour. If that’s not enough to impress you, why don’t we take a look at his grand slam from Saturday’s game.
Both of these balls had no chance of staying in the ballpark. Sanchez knew it both times and so did everyone watching.
To dive a little deeper into his Statcast numbers, Sanchez is in the top 1% of the league in xSLG (.876) xWOBA (.512), which simply means that his quality of contact suggests he is absolutely destroying the ball. His average exit velocity is above 95 miles per hour in five out of the nine quadrants of the plate, and in two it’s above 100. Not to mention the low and away quadrant and the high and inside quadrant, though those most likely come from a smaller sample size.
When Sanchez hits the ball, he obliterates it. As previously mentioned, his batting average hasn’t necessarily caught up yet, but he doesn’t need a high batting average in order to produce at a high level. Keep in mind he’s done all this while only playing in 14 of the 28 games his team has played so far this year due to a minor groin injury.
I wouldn’t expect Sanchez to run a .300 average from here on out, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that figure rise as the season progresses. What we can be sure of is that when Sanchez puts to ball, it will be crushed.