How will Gary Sanchez rebound in 2021?
Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez, clearly struggled in the 2020 season. It led from him being an almost unanimous top 5 catcher 12 months ago to not being rated in the top 10 by some fans. His struggles leaded to some fans wanting him benched full time for backup catcher Kyle Higashioka, some wanted to trade him and some fans even wanted to cut him. But its not all doom and gloom for Gary. The stats point to 2020 being a clear off year and I believe he can rebound in 2021.
A brief overlook on 2018-2020
In 2020, Gary slashed a miserable .147/.253/.265 as well as a .271 wOBA and a 68 wRC+ making him 32% below league average in the hitting department. However, people are forgetting that this a 60 game season and are using recency bias to slate Sanchez. From 2018-2020 Gary has been a great catcher. Over this 3 year span his numbers improve significantly, he holds a 98 wRC+ just 2% below league average and a wOBA of .317. As you can tell these numbers are significantly better then his 2020 numbers and show that we should not use this incredibly short 60 game season to evaluate players as it is not a true reflection on how players have been performing.
If you ask a baseball fans opinion and Sanchez’s defense they will probably tell you that its absolutely terrible. Although it is below average, it isn’t horrific and is underrated by the majority of baseball fans. From 2018-2020 Sanchez has a DRS of just -2, and a FRAA of just -7.7. In comparison, Cubs catcher, Wilson Contreras, has -23.4 FRAA. When you add this onto Gary’s cannon of an arm, you have a guy who although he doesn’t have the best defense it is certainly not as awful as some people say.
Did Gary Sanchez get unlucky in 2020?
Although Gary was awful offensively, in 2020 I believe he got unlucky in 2020 to determine this I’ll be using 3 stats. BABIP and I will be comparing Gary’s wOBA to his xwOBA. In 2020, Gary had a BABIP of .159. For comparison, in 2019, he had a BABIP of .244. This clearly shows Gary got unlucky on balls in play in 2020 as they often found a fielder. For the 2nd comparison, I will be comparing Gary’s wOBA to xwOBA.
As mentioned, Gary had a wOBA of .271 which is extremely poor. However, he had an xwOBA of .299. Although this isn’t great, Gary had this in a down year which is just below league average. He is primed to exceed the stats he put up in 2020 and the x stats show it. Something which also goes unnoticed, is that per baseball savant, Gary was in the 89th percentile for exit velocity and the 92nd percentile for hard hit% this shows Gary can still pummel the ball and is set to do this in 2021.
Yes, Gary Sanchez had a poor 2020. However this was extremely unlike Gary and he also got very unlucky. He is in a prime position for his greatest season since 2017 in 2021.