We are now in the last few days of 2016 and it is likely that the Yankees will not acquire any new players before the first day of the new year. There is a rumor that David Robertson and Jose Quintana could be traded to the Yankees from the White Sox, but that possible trade would take a lot of top prospects from the Yankees and is probably not close to happening.
Looking back on the last year of Yankees baseball, when the team missed the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons, the number one highlight was the emergence and historic performance from Gary Sanchez.
The last time the Yankees had a position player prospect come on to the scene from their minor league system and make an impact anywhere close to the one Sanchez did was Greg Bird in 2015. However, the only reason he was called up was because Mark Teixeira was injured for the last two months of the season.
After making his debut on August 13, Bird was very productive as he had 11 homers, 31 RBI, a .261 average and a .526 slugging percentage while playing very good defense at first. Bird had to miss the 2016 season because of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder, but his performance in 2015 has led to him going into spring training as the regular first baseman.
Bird should be able to be a productive first baseman in his first full season but his future is somewhat of an unknown since he is coming off of surgery and has only played two months. The last rookie Yankees position player who progressed from the Yankees minor league system to play a close to a full season and make a real impact before Bird and Sanchez was Brett Gardner back in 2009.
In 2009, Gardner played in 108 games, drove in 23 runs, stole 23 bases and had a solid .270 average. He made his debut in 2008 but only played in 48 games. He has been a productive outfielder for the Yankees since then and was named an All-Star in 2015 and his career high in steals is 49.
Before Gardner, Robinson Cano came up through the minor league system after being signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent as a 17-year-old and made his debut when he was 22 in 2005. When he was a rookie, Cano finished second in Rookie of the Year voting with 14 homers, 34 doubles, 62 RBI and a .297 average. Cano was an All-Star and received a Silver Slugger award in his second campaign after finishing with an outstanding .342 average with 15 homers, 78 RBI and a .525 slugging percentage.
Francisco Cervelli, who signed as an amateur free agent in 2003 out of Venezuela and made his debut as a 22-year-old in 2008, was solid and essentially split time with Jorge Posada in 2010 and had some decent years as a backup. Besides those three, the Yankees haven’t had significant production from a position player that they have developed in the last 10 years. This is what makes Sanchez’s production all the more important and significant.
Sanchez made his debut in September of 2015 when he was 0-2 in two at-bats in two games but would exceed his rookie limit in the 2016 season after playing regularly after being called up on August 3. He lost a competition with Austin Romine to be the backup in spring training but it was for the best because he was able to work on his defensive weaknesses with the Triple-A Scranton RailRiders.
Sanchez was called up for one game in May when he went 0-4 but during that game on August 3 he got his first MLB hit off of Hansel Robles in a game against the Mets. He ended the 2016 season with an very impressive stat line of a .299 average with 60 hits, 12 doubles, 34 runs scored, 20 homers, 42 RBI and a .657 slugging percentage.
He finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting to Michael Fulmer and surely would have finished first if he would have been called up a month and a half to two months sooner. However, very few players in baseball history have put up the kind of stats that he had in only two months of the season, which makes him finishing second in the voting very impressive and noteworthy and makes him the story of the year for the Yankees.
After becoming the everyday catcher on the 3rd he went on a four-game hitting streak, which included three doubles, and in the seven games after being called up he went 10 for 29 (.345) with one homer, four RBI and seven runs scored.
On August 10, in the middle of one of his hot streaks, he went 4-5 with his first MLB home run. On August 16 against the Blue Jays, Sanchez had his first of three two homer games. On August 22, Sanchez was named AL Player of the Week after hitting four home runs with a .523 average (12-21). After playing his 23rd career game on August 27, he became the first player in MLB history with at least 11 homers and 31 hits in that many games.
Another milestone that he set was on August 29 was winning his second consecutive Player of the Week, and on September 3 MLB named the Yankees prized catcher the Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month. He is the only Yankees catcher to ever named Rookie of the Month or Player of the Month.
“It feels great to win the award, but the reality is that the focus is to keep winning games right now,” Sanchez said through a translator. He had a team first attitude through all of his success, which is a positive.
He has always been known for his hitting ability but he has been able to improve his skills behind the plate and his success at throwing out runners at second. He had a 41 percent caught stealing percentage, which is a very solid number and was much better than what Brian McCann had.
He was always a highly rated prospect but he admittedly had some struggles earlier in his minor league career because of attitude issues, which he has overcome. He credits the birth of his daughter for his transformation from a player “going through the motions” to one who is now praised for his work ethic.
On September 21, in a game against the Rays when he was 3-4 with 5 RBI, he slugged his 18th and 19th homers in his 45th career game, which made him the fastest player to reach that mark in the modern era. His ability to improve his mindset, work ethic and overall skill set and to not go through the motions anymore has caused him to improve all around and the give the Yankees a potential All-Star at the catcher position.
Gary Sanchez, whose August and September this past season will go down in history for the power numbers that he produced, finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting on Monday to Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers. When he was called up in the beginning of August he became the primary catcher and Brian McCann primarily switched to designated hitter.
Sanchez was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on August 3 (he played in one game on May 13) and even though he only played in the last two months he still had a very impressive .299 average with 20 homers, 42 RBI, .376 on-base percentage, .657 slugging percentage, 1.033 OPS and a 3.0 Wins Above Replacement. His 3.0 WAR was 1st in the American League among catchers, his 20 homers were second most in the AL at his position, his 12 doubles were tied for 12 most in the league and his slugging percentage was best in the league among catchers.
The 23-year-old was nearly the back-up catcher to begin the season but the Yankees decided to go with Austin Romine instead so that Sanchez could continue to improve behind the plate. The native of the Dominican who signed with the Yankees as an international free agent when he was 16 will go down in the baseball record books for being the fastest player to reach 19 homers in the modern era of baseball.
On September 21, he hit his 18th and 19th homers in his 45th game of his career. He slugged his 20th homer on September 27, against the Boston Red Sox, to help the Yankees win the first game of the series 6-4. Sanchez also became the first player in Major League Baseball history to have at least 11 homers and 31 hits in his first 23 career games.
Sanchez hit .389 with 11 homers and 21 RBI in his 24 games during the month of August. He was twice named American League Player of the Week during August and was also named and was also voted the leagues rookie and player of the month for August.
“Shoot, if Babe Ruth was hitting behind (Sanchez), you’d intentionally walk him,” Mark Teixeira said. “He’s as hot as any player I’ve ever played with in my entire career. You just don’t see guys doing what he’s doing.”
“The Kraken” is the first Yankees catcher in the 113-year history of the franchise to win rookie of the month or player of the month. The last AL player to win rookie of the month and player of the month in the same month was Jose Abreu of the White Sox in July of 2014. The last AL catcher to be named player of the month before Sanchez was Joe Mauer of the Twins in May of 2009.
He recorded his first hit in his first game on August 3 off of Hansel Robles of the Mets. On August 10, he went a very impressive 4-5 and hit his first MLB home run. Six days later, against the Blue Jays, he had his first two home run game. During August and September he drove in two or more runs 12 times, and on September 21 he drove in five runs and scored a career-high three runs against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Sanchez is only the third Yankee to hit 20 homers after August 1. The other two are Hall of Famers Babe Ruth (he did in in 1927) and Roger Maris (he did the feat in 1961). Ruth and Maris both hit single season homer records when they hit 20 after the beginning of August. Another amazing accomplishment that Sanchez had was hitting eight homers in 11 games during September.
August 3 was the third time that he had been called up, but he only had two at-bats in October of 2015 and four at-bats on May 13 of 2016. The Yankees’ #2 prospect after the 2015 season who has always been known for his offense was really able to improve his defense in the first four months of the year at Triple-A. He threw out 41 percent of base stealers in 2016 with the Yankees because of his strong and accurate arm and had a fielding percentage of .991. McCann, who finished his 12 MLB season, threw out only 23 percent of base stealers.
The voting for Rookie of the Year was not close as Fulmer, the major player the Mets sent to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade in 2015, got 26 of the 30 first-place votes and four seconds on the 30 ballots. Sanchez finished in second place after getting four first- place votes, 23 second-place votes and two third-place votes. Sanchez definitely would have deserved to finish first after putting up numbers that had never been seen in baseball’s history, but Fulmer won based on how he produced for the whole season.
Fulmer, who made 26 starts for the Tigers, had an impressive 3.06 ERA with one shutout, 132 strikeouts, a 1.119 WHIP and only 42 walks in 159 innings pitched. His performance declined at the end of the season as he allowed three runs or more in five of his last seven starts and six runs in two of those starts, but the voters still thought he should be the Rookie of the Year instead of Sanchez.
It is still remarkable what Sanchez did because he produced his stats after playing in only two of the six months of the season. He was gracious in defeat since he tweeted congrats to Fulmer and said he deserves all the praise that he is getting. The positive is that the Yankees have their catcher for at least the next few years after Sanchez showed what he can do in August and September.
The Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox, 6-4, at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night for their second win in a row. The win also ended Boston’s 11-game winning streak.
The win kept them mathematically alive for the second wild card spot as they are four games behind the Baltimore Orioles with five games left in the season. Their chance is virtually impossible but it is positive to see that the players are still fighting as Joe Girardi has been saying.
To lead off the scoring for the Yankees in the bottom of the first inning, Gary Sanchez hit a two-run homer off of David Price for his 20th blast of the season. He matched Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves as the fastest players in major league history to reach the 20-homer milestone. The have both hit 20 home runs in 51 games played. Sanchez or the Tigers Michael Fulmer are the two contenders for AL Rookie of the Year.
Another rookie, Tyler Austin, hit a two-run homer off of Price in the seventh inning when the score was tied at four. That was his fourth homer and after hitting a homer in his first career at-bat his other homers this season have all come in clutch situations. He 3-3 game raised his average from .197 to .230. He along with others on the team expect greatness when Sanchez steps to the plate.
“Everybody on the team calls home run when he steps up there,” Austin said.
Price has a 1-3 record with a 7.89 ERA against the Yankees this season. He struggled once again as he allowed six runs on 12 hits, one walk and three homers against the Yankees. He has been an ace for much of his career but the Yankees have basically always had his number from when he was a Tampa Bay Ray, to when he was a Toronto Blue Jay to now with the Red Sox.
“I was trying to stay with my approach and go from there,” Austin said. “I just try to do the same work I have been doing all year and go from there. It is unbelievable to see these guys doing well up here.”
This is David Ortiz‘s last series of his career against the Yankees, and the longtime star designated hitter for the Red Sox finished the game by going 0-5. He has 37 homers and 124 RBI this season, which is the best for a player in his age 40 season, but he struck out with a chance to tie the game in the 9th inning.
The third homer that the Yankees hit was a solo homer by Didi Gregorius in the sixth inning. That homer came after the Red Sox scored their first two runs of the game in the top of the sixth. Gregorius’s 20th homer of the season proves he has greatly improved offensively this year as he only hit nine homers in all of 2015, which was his previous career-high.
Gregorius’s homer also made history because he and Starlin Castro are now the first Yankees middle infielders to each hit 20 or more homers in a season. Castro, who is in his first season with the Yankees after being traded from the Chicago Cubs, has hit 21 homers. Castro’s previous career-high was 14 homers back in 2014.
Castro and Gregorius are also only the third second base and shortstop combination 26 or younger (they are both 26) to hit 20 or more homers in a season. The other two are Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa (Astros) this season and David Bell and Alex Rodriguez in 1999 (Mariners). This is a middle infield that should be productive for the Yankees for years to come and Gregorius has been better offensively this season than anyone expected.
Luis Cessa pitched very well as he had his first start where he didn’t allow a home run and that helped him only allow two runs in six innings. He had two big strikeouts in the sixth inning. He struck out Ortiz swining with runners on second and third, and then struck out Hanley Ramirez swinging to end the inning after the second run of the inning scored on Mookie Betts’s ground out.
In eight games as a starter his ERA is a very solid 3.72. His slider was excellent, which helped keep the Red Sox guessing and off balance. It appears that Cessa can be a solid No. 4 or No. 5 option in the rotation next season since he has four pitches and can be relied upon to throw a quality start or better.
Tyler Clippard struck out two batters in the ninth inning for his second save of the season. The Yankees have two more games in the series against the Red Sox and they will honor Ortiz before Thursday’s game. His 52 homers with the Red Sox against the Yankees are tied with Carl Yastrzemski for second all-time behind Ted Williams’s 62.
The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night, 5-3, to keep their hopes of getting the second wild card spot alive. They have a very small chance as they are 3.5 games out with 12 games left in the season. They have two more games left in the series against the last place Rays and then end the season playing the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Orioles.
Michael Pineda proved his potential once again and showed that he has the ability to have an ERA a good bit lower than the 4.89 ERA that he has. He threw 5.1 innings, allowed only two earned runs on five hits and a walk, and added 11 more strikeouts to his season total. This means that 11 of the 16 outs that he recorded were via the strikeout.
“The last couple of games I have used my change up more,” Pineda said. “I have a good feel for it so I have used it.” He also used his slider very well against the Rays.
Pineda came into the game 7th in the American League in strikeouts with 184, but the 195 that he currently has puts him in 6th place in the league. His ERA should be lower based on the quality of pitches that he throws and that all of the pitchers with more strikeouts than he has have ERAs of 4.05 or lower. The only runs that the Rays scored off of him came off of a two-run triple by Brad Miller.
Pineda already had 98 pitches after 5.1 innings, so it was time for Joe Girardi to take him out of the game. He has been one of the worst pitchers in the first inning this season but has been a little better pitching in the beginning of the game recently. He was not able to get the win because the Yankees were losing 2-1 when he left the game.
Mark Teixeira hit a 407-foot homer to left in the fourth inning to give the Yankees their first run of the game. That was his 13th homer of the season and only his 38th RBI of his final campaign.
The more important homer of the game came in the 7th inning after Brett Gardner’s RBI single scored Ronald Torreyes. Gary Sanchez hit a hanging slider to left center for a 3-run homer off of Brad Boxberger to make the score 5-2. That homer gave the Yankees the runs they needed to win the game and end their five-game losing streak.
Teixeira, who has seen a lot as he has been in the majors since 2003, was very impressed with Sanchez after the game.
“Amazing, incredible, impressive,” Teixeira said. “He’s carried us. We’re not even close to talking about a playoff berth if Gary doesn’t come up and do what he does.”
Sanchez’s homer was significant in a few other ways.
That was Sanchez’s 17th homer of the season and his 17 homers tie the Boston Braves’ Wally Berger in 1930 for most homers hit in the first 44 games of a career. Sanchez has also homered in three consecutive games, which is the second time he has done that since being called up in the beginning of August. His next homer will match Alfonso Soriano’s 18 homers (2001) for most as a Yankees rookie. Soriano hit his 18 homers in 574 at-bats and Sanchez has hit his 17 homers in only 162 at-bats.
“He’s meant a lot,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Offensively and defensively. It’s kind of fitting that he got the big hit.” Sanchez has thrown out nine runners attempting to steal and has allowed 16 stolen bases, which equals a solid 36 percent caught stealing percentage.
Sanchez is currently on a five-game hitting streak and has at least one hit in six of his last seven games. He deserves to be the AL Rookie of the Year based on the impact that he has had on the Yankees since the beginning of August. The other player who might deserve to win Rookie of the Year is the Tigers’ Michael Fulmer, but he has struggled in his last few starts.
Sanchez is leading all rookies in an advanced metric stat called fWAR that evaluates the overall statistics. Sanchez is 2.9, Chris Devenski is 2.7, Fulmer is 2.5 and Tyler Naquin is 2.1.
Tyler Clippard allowed his second earned run in his last two games in the eighth inning to make the score 5-3, but he was able to pick up his 10th hold since rejoining the Yankees on August 1. He has a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings, which is better than anyone could have expected.
The Yankees will look to sweep the remaining two games against the Rays to not lose any ground. The remaining games will be valuable for the young players on the team since they will continue to play in meaningful games with a playoff like atmosphere.
The Yankees were swept by the Boston Red Sox in a four-game series over the weekend and basically saw their hopes of making the postseason fade away. They are now eight games behind the Red Sox for first place in the AL East and four games behind Toronto for the second wild card, but four games ago, before the Red Sox series, they were four games behind the Red Sox and only two games out of the second wild card.
If the Yankees had a .500 record on the road this season then they would be in position for a playoff spot right now. As of now, they have a 44-31 record at Yankee Stadium but are only 33-41 in away games. The Yankees have lost six of their last seven games on the road but have won seven of their last 10 games in the Bronx. This five-game losing streak that the Yankees are on, that has brought them from 77-67 to 77-72 is a result of the team running out of steam and having the inability to hold onto leads in games.
The first loss in the losing streak was to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are 84-65 and have a four game lead for first place in the NL West. Pineda and the first three pitchers in the bullpen did not allow any runs in the 2-0 loss to the Dodgers but in the ninth inning the previously normally reliable Dellin Betances allowed two unearned runs to lead to the loss. Starlin Castro made an error on the first batter of the inning and Betances made an error when throwing home to lead to the second run.
In the series against the Red Sox, the Yankees blew a 5-1 lead in Game One and ended up losing 7-5, they blew a 5-2 lead in Game Three and ended up losing 6-5 and then in Game Four the Yankees had a 4-0 lead and ended up losing to the Red Sox 5-4. It is rare that a team will lose leads of four, three and four runs in one series.
A major reason that the Yankees lost the series was that they were not able to contain the dangerous Hanley Ramirez. The Red Sox scored 25 runs in the series and Ramirez had seven Runs Batted In. Ramirez was 9-18 in the series and in Game Four he hit two homers and drove in four of the team’s five runs.
Ramirez hit a three-run homer Sunday night in the fifth inning off of CC Sabathia that landed right above the Green Monster to make the score 4-3. In the seventh inning, Ramirez’s solo homer to left off of Tyler Clippard ended up being the game winner for the Red Sox. That was only the second earned run that Clippard has allowed in his 22 games (20 innings) with the Yankees this season since being traded from the Diamondbacks.
Gary Sanchez continued his remarkable month and a half since being called up from Triple-A by hitting a solo homer in the second to make the score 2-0. That was his 16th homer and 30th RBI in only his 41st game this season. Only four catchers have more homers than he does in the American League.
In Game One of the series, when the Yankees had a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the 8th inning, the Yankees bullpen totally fell apart in the last two innings. After Masahiro Tanaka only allowed one run in seven innings to lower his ERA to 2.97, which is the best ERA in the AL, Adam Warren gave up a solo homer in the 8th to make the scored 5-2.
The Red Sox scored five runs in the 9th inning off of Blake Parker and Betances. Parker walked the only batter he faced and that runner would later score and be charged to him. After Betances walked Dustin Pedroia and got Zander Bogaerts to hit into a fielder’s choice, five runs would score with two outs.
David Ortiz hit an RBI single to make the score 5-3, Mookie Betts hit an RBI single to left to make the score 5-4 and then Ramirez hit his first homer of the series, a three-run walk-off homer to make the score 7-5. That was a heartbreaking loss by the Yankees because it was a game that it appeared that they would win going into the 8th and 9th.
The Yankees have been relying on many young players like Luis Cessa, Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder and Ronald Torreyes among others. Aaron Judge is another rookie that was starting but he is out for the season due to injury. Jacoby Ellsbury is now listed as day-to-day with a right bone bruise after his knee hit the wall when he was making a catch on Saturday.
“We’ll see how he feels,” Girardi said. “With a bone bruise, we’ll try to get him back as quick as we can, but being a center fielder, you’ve got to be able to run. That’s the bottom line.”
Second baseman Starlin Castro was also injured during Saturday’s game as he hurt his hamstring when running to second during a double. His diagnosis is a Grade 1 hamstring strain and he could be done for the year.
It appeared that the Yankees would have a chance at getting to first place before their five-game losing streak began, since they had a four-game deficit with four games against the first place Red Sox, but now the Yankees can only play to try to stay close to the second wild card spot. It is not likely, but if the Yankees go 10-3 the rest of the season they will tie their record from last season when they finished 87-76. After the the trades the Yankees made at the trade deadline, Joe Girardi had the Yankees playing very well up until the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If the Yankees can finish the season 8-5 and three games out of the second wild card that will be a successful end to the season.
In the first game of their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees (76-67) lost 8-2 and were losing 6-1 after the third inning. The Bronx Bombers have now lost two games in a row and are five games behind the Boston Red Sox for first in the AL East and still only two games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild card spot.
The Yankees have scored two runs in each of their last two losses. Also, leading to their two straight losses, has been that their starting pitching has not been as good as it was during their seven-game winning streak. In Sunday’s loss to the Rays, Luis Cessa allowed four runs in 5.2 innings for his first loss, and in Monday’s loss to the Dodgers, Bryan Mitchell, who didn’t allow a run in five innings in his first game of the year last week, allowed six runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings pitched.
Mitchell only allowed two earned runs, which makes it seem like he pitched a lot better than the box score shows, but the Dodgers also had eight hits against him in only 2.1 innings. It took him 47 pitches to get four outs, which proves how ineffective he was. The three runs that the Dodgers scored in the second inning were unearned because with runners on first and third Aaron Judge made an error on a ball hit by Chase Utley causing him to advance to third and Howie Kendrick and Andrew Toles to score. Corey Seager was the next batter and he singled to right to score Utley.
In the third inning, the Dodgers scored on earned run and on unearned run off of Mitchell. He was taken out of the game after allowing a single, a double and then an infield single that scored Yasmani Grandal. Josh Reddick scored later in the inning but that run was unearned because of Gary Sanchez’s throwing error.
The Dodgers (81-62) scored two more runs at the end of the game on solo homers by Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner. Puig hit a pinch-hit homer and that was his third homer in his last 10 at-bats.
Dodgers rookie Jose De Leon limited the Yankees to two runs in five innings and four LA relievers held the Yankees scoreless over the final four innings while only allowing two hits. The only runs the Bronx Bomber scored came off of solo homers by Starlin Castro and Judge.
CC Sabathia will get the start for the Yankees in Game 2 of the series and Dodgers rookie Julio Urias will make his 14th career start. The Yankees will look to even the series and have the fans at Yankee Stadium make more noise than the Dodgers fans as Game One felt like a Dodgers home game.
Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez was named Player of the Week today for the games from August 22-28. He is the first rookie in MLB history to win American League Player of the Week two weeks in a row. He is also the first AL player to win Player of the Week twice in a row since Albert Belle did so for the Chicago White Sox in July of 1998.
“I think it is hard not to look at Gary Sanchez and be in awe of what he has done,” Joe Girardi said.
In the six games through August 28, Sanchez had an outstanding .522 average (12-23) with three doubles, five homers, seven runs scored and nine RBI. He also had a remarkable 1.911 OPS. In addition to being in the record books for his consecutive Player of the Week awards, he was also the fastest player in Major League history to reach 11 homers. He reached that milestone in 23 career games.
Sanchez, who is 23 years old, hit at least one home run in four of the six games in the last week and also had two games with two hits and two games with three hits.
“I don’t have an explanation for it,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I’m doing the same routine that I was doing in the Minor Leagues, I’m doing it here. I’m getting really good results right now. That’s it.”
The catcher has done a good job making adjustments within games and within at-bats. “When I have two strikes I try to shorten the swing,” Sanchez said when interviewed by MLB Network. “I am just trying to put a good swing on the ball. It is just instinct right now.”
John Sterling says “Gary is scary” in his home run call for Sanchez and scary is exactly what he has been for opposing pitchers. He has been a major factor in the Yankees getting back in the wild card race. It appears that he will continue to be a productive bat for the rest of the season even though he obviously will not be able to continue at the pace he has the last week.
Besides his offense, Sanchez has been able to take charge behind the plate while impressively throwing out six of the nine runners that have attempted to steal on him. He has always been known for his offense but his defense has greatly improved.