Since the All-Star Game in which Gary started behind the dish for the American League team, he has struggled at the plate. The Yankees as a team have been just fine and are still putting up great numbers with their loaded lineup, but of course, it cannot hurt to have their All-Star catcher produce a little as well.
Gary was truly the best catcher in baseball in the first half. He led all catchers in home runs and RBI. On the flip side, Sanchez only has four hits so far through 36 at-bats in the second half and no home runs. For a guy who had one of the highest barrel percentages in the league, we’ve seen little to no contact at all. He hit the ball hard twice the other day in Minnesota right at Jorge Polanco who made two tremendous plays and robbed Sanchez of breaking out of his slump.
Beyond just not getting hits, if you look at Sanchez’s monthly splits against the fastball this season, he has struggled with it more and more as the season has gone on. Since April, his whiff percentage on the fastball has increased from 19% to 34.8%. His expected slugging percentage on fastballs has decreased from 1.111 to .285 now in July. Fastballs are the pitch that Gary hits the best. This is the pitch that gives him a top-five barrel percentage in baseball; when he hits them, he crushes them. On top of all this, his swing and miss percentage, in general, has spiked since June increasing from 17.2% to 53.8%.
Coming up in the Yankees farm system, Sanchez was regarded as the best hitter out of all the prospects, including Judge. Gary has struggled a lot with injuries throughout his short career and it always seems to be the smallest thing with him, a tweak here or a strain there. It is certainly hard to get back into your rhythm as a hitter when you can’t stay healthy. It’s always better to have Sanchez struggle now rather than in the postseason when everything is exemplified.
In terms of Gary’s timetable for a return, it is unknown as of now. He was placed on the 10-day IL, but as all Yankee fans know by now, that could mean anywhere from ten days to a month. However, with a nice division lead, Sanchez can focus on getting back into a groove and destroying fastballs once he returns from his injury.