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 defeated the Detroit Tigers, 4-3, in Alex Rodriguez’s first game back at Yankee Stadium this season. About half of the stadium booed A-Rod when he came up for his first at-bat and the other half cheered his arrival back in the Bronx. Ivan Nova limited the Tigers to only one run in seven very solid innings.
Detroit was on a 12-game winning streak coming into the opener of the series and the Yankees had lost their previous four games. The Yankees are showing a little bit of progress on offense because in their last two games they have scored four and five runs, but in the previous five games they had not scored more than three runs.
The offensive leaders were Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and Ichrio Suzuki. Cano had a double in the third inning that drove in Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki. That was Cano’s only multiple RBI game in his last 10 games and he only has three total runs driven in in his last 10 games. Hopefully this is a sign of his power coming back. Gardner, on the other hand, had three hits, two runs scored, and RBI and a steal. Gardner has been an offensive catalyst as he is on a four-game hitting streak and has driven in a run in three out of his past four games.
Rodrigues did nothing to help the offense or stop the boos from the fans as he had zero hits in four at-bats with three strikeouts. He looked decent in his three games in Chicago, where he got on base with walks and a hit by pitch and was three for 11, but looked overwhelmed back at Yankee Stadium. It is possible that he will be able to turn it around in his second game at home as he has not driven in a run so far. He is obviously not what he was even two years ago, but he is still an upgrade over the previous third baseman that the Yankees were playing.
Garner’s third hit of the game was obviously his most important as he hit a perfectly placed single past Miguel Cabrera and Hernan Perez to drive Jayson Nix for the winning run in the 10th inning. Nix entered the game as a defensive replacement of A-Rod in the ninth. This makes sense because A-Rod does not have the speed defensively that he used to as a result of his two hip surgeries.
Ivan Nova, who has only allowed two runs in his past three starts, has been by far the second best pitcher after Hiroki Kuroda this season. He has combined for 23 strikeouts over his past three starts while only allowing six walks. A sign of success for a pitcher is limiting the free passes and being able to get out of trouble in an inning and that is what Nova has been doing. However, Nova (just like Kuroda) should have about nine wins instead of the five that he has as a result of the anemic offense that the Yankees have displayed for much of the season.
Mariano Rivera has blown the save in each of the last two games. That is a sight that the Yankees have seen very few times during his Hall of Fame career. It was his fourth blown save of the season. Overbay came very close to making an outstanding catch on a fly ball that went near the photographers and if the would have reached for it at a different angle he might have caught it. Rivera said that he thought Overbay had a chance to make the great catch.
The Yankees have 48 more games left the season and will likely have to win at least 32 games to have a chance at a Wild Card. They are currently seven games behind the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot. It obviously does not seem likely that the Yankees will make the playoffs right now, but if Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte can string together solid starts and the offense can stay consistent it is possible.
I saw this movie before I left for school and I definitely recommend this flick from 1992. You should see it if you are a baseball fan or just enjoy a story about adapting to a new culture.
Jack Eliot, played by Tom Selleck, is shown as a former productive first baseman for the New York Yankees, but those years are behind him. He struck out in many critical at-bats and as a result of the rookie first baseman (played by Frank (Big Hurt) Thomas) hitting moonshots during batting practice the coaches come to the decision that Eliot is not needed anymore.
When he is called into the coaches office he thinks he might be traded to Cleveland, (he probably thought they were the only squad that would want him since they were at the bottom in 92) but he is very surprised when he realizes that the only interested team is in Japan. He is initially angry that he has to go all the way to Japan to play baseball.
At first, Eliot has a lot of trouble adapting to the culture because and unique style of play in Japan. He has a personal translator, but when the press interviews him he is overly honest and sometimes critical, which is frowned upon in Japan, so the translator has to spin it in another direction.
Another main character in this movie is the attractive Hiroko. It seems like she is somebody who is assigned to the American when they first join the team in order to help them enjoy/adapt successfully to the culture.
The first time they meet is on the field at practice and she says they need to connect later in the day at his apartment. He is shocked to realize that she knows where he lives. Eliot thinks that she is a prostitute because of the circumstance, but she assures him that is not the case.
He has differences with his manager’s style, so Hiroko tells him how to adjust and deal with the Japanese team-first style. He has trouble doing this because he is used to trying to hit home runs and never bunting. A memorable scene from one of Eliot’s first games is when the third base coach gives him the sign to bunt, but he emphatically refuses because it was never his style to bunt in a game.
He gets fined what seemed like a lot of money, but Eliot did not really care, and willingly picked up another fine by throwing all of the helmets to the ground. This would not really merit a fine in America, but they are all about the team and portraying the right image.
Dennis Haysbert’s character was the other American on the team, and in addition to Hiroko, he tried to tell him right from wrong. Haysbert had the correct mindset of trying to excel in Japan in order to get a call from an MLB team, and it would take until towards the end of the movie for Eliot to have the correct mindset.
He would start to observe and accept the Japanese culture after more time spent with Hiroko. They went to a traditional Japanese garden together, she taught him to accept Japanese food and she even gave him a massage with words that she thought would motivate him.
This was all part of the process for Eliot, but Hiroko’s last resort was taking him to a surprise destination. He had no idea what to expect, given that this mystery was outside of the city, but once he met the host it is revealed that Hiroko is the coach’s daughter.
I will not give away too many details of this at first alarming encounter, but he reluctantly decides to eat the traditional Japanese meal prepared by Hiroko’s mother while listening to more advice from his coach aimed at being helpful.
Towards the end of the movie, he observes the correct customs in the locker room, is a leader for his teammates, starts hitting consistently with power, while using a team-first approach to help his team beat their rival for the championship.
The championship victory helps both Americans get back to the MLB. However, Eliot and Hiroko develop a relationship and some tension arises before the final game. Eliot informs Hiroko that he can’t refuse an offer from the Tigers, which makes her think that he is being selfish.
However, the fact that he put team over self in a critical moment, which lead to victory, made Hrioko want to come to the States with him. The movie had a happy ending while proving how one can benefit from spending time in a new culture. He only started to excel at the plate when he embraced the Japenese on-field style, and the country’s cultural differences.