Gary Sánchez is the Best Catcher in Baseball. Here are Some Stats to Prove it.

MLB.com

That was a fun win last night, huh? It’s June 1, and the Yanks have the 3rd best record in the league and sit in first place in the AL East (a one-game lead is still first place). Things are good. One of the big reasons why the Yankees are off to this start is because of the phenomenal play of Gary Sánchez, who is quieting even his most persistent doubters in 2019 and reminding everyone that he’s the best catcher in baseball.

It’s Saturday morning and a beautiful day, and we should all really go outside and enjoy it before tonight’s matchup against Boston. In the meantime, though, here are some fun stats about Gary Sánchez that you might not know.

Since Becoming a Regular

Gary joined the Yanks for good on August 3, 2016. Including Gary, 38 players have logged at least 600 plate appearances as a catcher in that span. To the numbers:

  • He has 88 home runs, the most in the league. The next closest is Yasmani Grandal, who has played 67 more games, with 69.
  • He owns a .534 slugging percentage, highest in the league. The next closest is Evan Gattis at .482.
  • His .868 OPS is the highest in the league. The next closest is Wilson Contreras, coming in at .822.
  • His .364 wOBA is tops in baseball. Contreras is again in 2nd, at .352.
  • His .279 ISO also ranks first. The next closest is Grandal again, who sits at .231.
  • His 128 wRC+ is also best in the league. Our friend Grandal is again in 2nd, at 119.

In 2019

Here’s how he’s doing in 2019. Spoiler alert: pretty good!

  • He has 17 home runs, first among catchers with 5 more than Grandal and Contreras in 14 fewer games. He ranks 5th in the league overall.
  • He is hitting a home run every 9.35 plate appearances. Over a full season with the average 550 plate appearances, that’s a 59 home run pace. That’s 14 more than Johnny Bench’s 1970 season, when he set the record for home runs as a catcher with 45.
  • His .646 slugging percentage is .78 points higher than the next closest, Contreras.
  • His .382 ISO (!!) is .90 points higher than Contreras, again in 2nd.
  • His 151 wRC+ ranks 2nd among catchers with 100 plate appearances, barely behind Contreras at 152.
  • He is producing a “barrel” (the optimal outcome for at at-bat, per Statcast) in 15.7% of his plate appearances and 25% of all batted balls he produces. That’s 1st and 2nd in the league, respectively.
  • His average exit velocity is 94 mph, ranking him in the 99th percentile among all players, and his xWOBA and xSLG rank in the 98th and 100th percentile, respectively.

Those are some statistics about Gary Sánchez. Oh, wait. I left out the most important one: last year, he allowed a league-leading 18 passed balls, so it’s actually impossible to say if he’s good or not. Nevermind.

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7 Comments

  1. overseasyankeefan

    Gary’s offense is and will always be his calling card while his defense has often been undermined (there are still some irrational uneducated fans calling him fat and lazy! =’=). His errors on throwing out runners earlier this season did seem like an anomaly. It wasn’t his arm strength but accuracy, albeit at times 2B’s/SS’ failure to catch the bouncing balls that should have been caught. Not sure if there is a link between pitch-framing and ball blocking (it would be intriguing if there is! :D) but from the eye test, pitch-framing looks like more to do with hand/arm softness and steadiness while ball blocking has more to do with quickness of the overall body movement to stop the ball in front of the plate and how gloves are positioned when balls are (expected to be) in the dirt. Look forward to the OP’s analysis on Gary’s defense :-).

  2. The K-Rod

    Think about this – the time that Sanchez was going up the ranks, he was among the many notable catching prospects in the Yankee system. And yes, he was the top yankee prospect for a few years. But he was in the system with the likes of Romine and Murphy, who are not so bad themselves. There there is Montero.

    My point is – lots of chances for the Yankees to have chosen a different “catcher of the future” and used Gary as a trade piece. Pretty big win for the Yankees for sticking with Sanchez even with all the prospect fatigue around 2014 to 2016.

  3. TCF16

    Let’s not forget his pretty great all-around defense. Rocket arm which stops runners from even thinking about going. Pretty excellent pitch framing. Very few passed balls.

    He’s on a first ballot Hall of Fame trajectory.

    • Bobby

      Oh, I haven’t forgotten about his defense. I’m planning to actually do a deeper dive into that. But since it requires a bit more work/explanation since defensive stats are a bit wonkier, I didn’t want to spoil it here. His defense is actually pretty underrated.

      • TCF16

        I still find defensive stats, especially for catchers, to be so wonky that they’re basically unusable. Looking forward to seeing your post on this! I love Gary.

      • RetroRob

        His defense this year is a bit curious. His passed balls are way down, although where he previously excelled — pitch framing and throwing out runners — he’s now less stellar. The throwing-runners-out percentage is almost assuredly a blip. His arm strength remains, as we saw last night. He had a few errors earlier in the season that likely skew the numbers. I also suspect the percent of runners trying to steal is lower than league average. He’s reducing the running game simply be being behind the plate and the threat of his arm. It’s the pitch framing that’s curious. Is there a link between his degraded pitching-framing numbers and his improvement in passed balls?

        • Cody

          I can recall at least three instances where his throws were absolutely whiffed on by either DJ or Torres. One throw was absolutely perfect, no excuse for the fielder, the other two were one hops on line that should have been caught. To my eyes, Gary has been not just good, but excellent behind the plate this season. He has thankfully proven me right, as I suffered at the hands of my fellow rabid Yankees fans horribly last season lol.

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