Gary Sanchez has lit the world on fire since he was called up by the Yankees on Aug. 3. He became the fastest player in baseball history to record 19 homers; it took him just 45 games, which eclipsed the previous record by six games. And the home run total isn’t the only gaudy number on Sanchez’s statsheet. As of Sept. 27, Sanchez has a .315 batting average, 40 RBI, and a 1.078 OPS.
“Nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Yankees scout Gary Denbo told the New York Post. “We knew he had the tools and could hit for power and average, but there’s no way you could anticipate what he’s done.”
“It’s hard to believe what this man has done in a short period up here,” Joe Girardi told NJ.com. “You just watch him and he continues to come up with big hit after big hit.”
But assuming he plays every game from now to the season finale, Sanchez would only just reach the one-third mark of games played; 54. Yet Sanchez has generated serious discussion for AL Rookie of the Year honors. His manager says he merits consideration.
“I think you have to think about it, I really do,” Girardi told ESPN. “I know people are going to argue he has only been here two months, but his two months have been as good as it gets.”
Sanchez’s main competition for the year-long award is Tigers’ starting pitcher Michael Fulmer. Detroit is 18-7 in his starts this year (Fulmer’s record is 11-7), and he has an AL-leading 2.95 ERA. On his ERA mark alone Fulmer will get Cy Young votes. It’s true that Fulmer won’t play in as many games as Sanchez, but a starter has a far more dramatic impact on a game than one hitter does.
Hitters are often judged by their year-end results, not the streaks they go on during the season. Hitting streaks can be prolonged like the one Sanchez is on, but it is pure conjecture to say whether or not he could keep this pace up over the course of an entire season. It is also unfair to assume whether or not Sanchez would have been able to avoid the injury bug, something extremely difficult for a catcher to dodge.
Trevor Story is the perfect example of how preposterous it would be to give a year-long award to Sanchez instead of Fulmer. Story burst onto the scene in April for the Rockies, hitting .261 with 10 home runs and 20 RBI. His power numbers cooled slightly through May and June but he began to boost his average, then he clubbed eight more home runs in July. With his average standing at .272 with 27 homers and 72 RBI, Story’s season was suddenly derailed by a torn ligament in his thumb after 97 games.
Yet Story will get very little support in the NL Rookie of the Year race. And had Gary Sanchez gone on this tear in April and May instead of August and September, he probably would have been forgotten as well.