Gary Sanchez notoriously struggled last season. Although the regular season was just over one-third of a normal MLB season, it was by far the worst campaign of his career.
Despite his 10 home runs being the second-most among catchers, behind only J.T. Realmuto, he hit .147 with a .253 on-base percentage, both ranking last among catchers who played in over 35 games. His 64 strikeouts were also the most by any catcher in the big leagues.
Sanchez feels that the 2020 season was an anomaly.
“It just wasn’t me. That 2020 thing, that wasn’t me,” Sanchez told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. “It was a bad year.”
Maybe it’s not him – since 2016, his .824 OPS, .503 slugging percentage, and 115 home runs rank at the top of all MLB catchers. Even with a .200 batting average since 2018, the third-worst among catchers with 200-plus games played in that time span, his 62 homers are still the most by any catcher, while his .453 slugging percentage ranks fifth.
But his struggles were so bad, that the Yankees couldn’t take any more risks, and put Kyle Higashioka behind the plate as the full-time catcher in the postseason. Sanchez had just one hit (a home run) in nine plate appearances, along with four strikeouts, while Higashioka slashed .278/.316/.444 in his 19 plate appearances.
“I didn’t know why I wasn’t playing,” Sanchez said, whose defensive struggles continued. “In the regular season, when they sat me down, they told me they were going to give me two days or three days to get myself back together again. … When the playoffs came around, when they benched me the first time, I understood that I was no longer catching the pitcher who was going to pitch that day (Gerrit Cole), which started during the regular season. … After almost a week without playing… I said to myself, ‘What happened here?'”