Well that's one way to make an entrance. Despite playing just one game in the majors before Aug. 3, Gary Sanchez played his way into Rookie of the Year contention with one of the best 50-game stretches to begin a career of all time. The catcher hit 11 home runs in a 15-game span and ended with 20 homers and 42 RBI -- absurd numbers considering he played in just 53 contests. Though he seemed to run out of steam a bit at the end, hitting just .222 in September while striking out in more than one-third of his at-bats, the rookie still finished with a 1.032 OPS. It's highly unlikely his 60-homer pace will be sustainable over the course of a full season, but Sanchez will immediately jump toward the top of the list among the best -- if not the best -- offensive catchers next season, when he'll be just 24 years old.
Sanchez announced Tuesday that he will not play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record reports. Sanchez had been planning to play for the Dominican Republic but ultimately changed his mind. He wants a full spring with his teammates to prepare for the start of the regular season. His power pace from last season (20 homers in 229 plate appearances) is not sustainable, but he is arguably the Yankees' best hitter (171 wRC+) and it seems likely he will be in the three-hole four days a week at a minimum.
Sanchez is not in Saturday's lineup against the Orioles. Perhaps no player in recent memory has gotten off to as hot a start to a career as Sanchez, but he's now fallen into a slump to close out the season. He is hitting .094/.189/.219 with one home run and 12 strikeouts over his last 37 plate appearances. Austin Romine will start behind the dish and hit seventh Saturday.
Sanchez went 2-for-4 with a double in Friday's 9-0 loss to the Blue Jays. It was a miserable night overall for the Yankees offense, but Sanchez seems to be virtually immune to any struggles at the moment. The two-hit effort was his fourth multi-hit outing in the last eight games, and also represented the seventh contest overall in which he'd hit safely over that span. Sanchez's stellar rookie season includes a .337/.413/.738 line, along with 19 homers and 38 RBI.
Sanchez continued to crush balls Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with a pair of homers, three runs scored and five RBI. Sanchez has been the best player in baseball since being called up in August, now with a .337 average and 19 home runs in 43 games this season. He's now the fastest player in major league history to 19 home runs (45 career games), and is showing no signs of slowing down. He's made a strong case for AL Rookie of the Year despite playing less than two months, and will certainly be a sought-after player in 2017 fantasy drafts.
Sanchez went 1-for-3 with a walk and a three-run homer in Tuesday's game against the Rays. Sanchez continues his hot hitting with the go-ahead blast in the seventh inning Tuesday. The catcher has now homered in three straight games, giving Sanchez six this month and 17 for the season. Over his last five games, the 23-year-old is 8-for-22 (.364), with five extra-base hits, eight RBI and four runs.