Yankee Manager Aaron Boone Needs To Bench Gary Sanchez Until 2019 [Opinion]

Gary Sanchez
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In the wake of Yankee manager Aaron Boone naming Gary Sanchez his catcher throughout the playoffs, as reported by the Inquisitr, Sanchez showed why Yankee fans and analysts think he’s wrong. It’s not just people that say Sanchez isn’t performing well enough to play, it’s statistics, and those are far more objective than any human perspective could ever be. Boone, along with the handful of people defending and coddling Sanchez, which includes H. Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman, need step back and get a dose of reality.

Statistically, Gary Sanchez is the worst starting catcher in baseball, bar-none, per Baseball Reference. Don’t let the fact that he has only gotten into 84 games cloud anything; he has started almost every game that he has been on the active roster for. He missed two months to injuries on two separate stints but has managed to clout 16 homers, which is where the good news on his stats ends.

He’s hitting 0.182 on the season, which is below George Brett’s infamous “Mendoza line,” named for light-hitting shortstop Mario Mendoza. It is the line that has proverbially been used to separate serviceable from failing. In other terms, they say he’s still not on the interstate, hitting below 0.195. Any way you phrase it, it is the worst average of all starting MLB catchers. His -Rbat is -10 and his WAR is 0.7 for stat-heads that prefer different metrics.

He is statistically less effective at the dish than Greg Bird, and they traded to find a replacement for him in Luke Voit. Any metric you look at, it’s ugly. It’s why Boone has had to drop him to eighth in the lineup; he can’t be counted on to produce in the middle anymore, and he certainly isn’t feared enough to provide any form of lineup protection, according to NJ Advance Media. Despite this, Boone continues defending him being in the lineup.

“So Gary’s always working on his craft, he’s always working hard on his hitter. He’s done a pretty good job of controlling the strike zone. If he continues to do that, I feel like results will follow and hopefully we will see a stretch in him at some point.”

Defensively, it is arguable he’s doing an even worse job than he is with the bat. Entering last night’s game with Tampa Bay, Sanchez led the majors in errors and passed balls, per The New York Post, and he then padded those numbers with two more passed balls. He has four more passed balls than anyone in the majors, while only catching 72 games. NJ Advance Media reported that he is actually regressing defensively as opposed to what Boone is feeding the press every night.

“We’ve got to continue to work on it and continue to clean up. It kind of overshadows some of the really good things that he did from a receiving, from a game-calling standpoint. We just have to keep leaning into him. I know he’s working his butt off at it and we’ll keep going.”

What those really good things are, no one is sure of. Is it the September slash line of a 0.152 BA (10-for-66) in 19 games, or going 1-for-27 with 13 strikeouts in his last eight games? Is it averaging a passed ball or error every 17 innings? As Randy Miller who covers the Yankees for NJ.Com said, “Sanchez is working his butt off and looks this bad? That’s scary.” Joel Sherman, who has covered the Yankees for decades, said Sanchez doesn’t even look like a major league caliber player anymore in an interview with MLB.com.

Austin Romine is hitting 0.244 with 10 homers and 40 ribbies in an almost identical amount of games caught to Sanchez. He is far superior defensively, per Baseball Reference. Kyle Higashioka has had few opportunities, but is no worse at the plate than Sanchez this year on a per plate appearance basis and is better defensively than all of them. There are options on the roster that are more dependable for a must-win game, and the playoffs in general, if the Yankees advance.

Yankee management has been careful to coddle Sanchez, to the point of it being a major factor in the firing manager Joe Girardi for criticizing his hustle, work ethic, and poor conditioning, according to Yahoo, He claimed Sanchez’s weight and poor conditioning would lead to injuries and sloppy work behind the plate, and it is time to face the reality that he was right.

Coddling didn’t work. Sanchez got worse. He got injured and missed almost half the season. He has become a punchline on blooper reels this year. He is not capable of commanding a team from behind the plate. Not right now.

Sanchez may be the catcher of the future. He may turn into a Hall of Fame type player. That is not, however, how he is playing right now. Right now, he is fighting to be just the second worst hitter in the MLB ahead of Chris Davis. He has proved he is ineffective behind the plate. As the saying goes, you can’t effectively lead from behind.

Despite everyone in the organization defending him and his work ethic, he is statistically the third best catcher, out of three, that the Yankees have on the 40-man roster right now. The Yankees need someone that can at least hit their weight, literally, and keep the ball in front of the plate more effectively. The right decision isn’t always the easy one, but at least to Yankee fans on Twitter, it is the popular one. Sanchez needs to ride the pine this postseason, at least if the Yankees want their best lineup on the field.