You could make the argument that giving Gary Sanchez the Rookie of the Year award would be wrong, but I don’t think it is a far stretch. In fact, I have heard this argument against then in favor of him but it is hard to overlook exactly what he has done for the Yankees. Sanchez is a game changer…and more than that he is a difference maker.
Who knows where this team would be right now without Sanchez and I really don’t want to imagine that. Sanchez was that breath of fresh air. He brought life back into a dead team and earned high praise from clubhouse veterans. Brian McCann went so far to say that his future was “off the charts” read that HERE and Mark Teixeira called him “amazing, incredible, impressive” read that HERE. That is a lot of high praise for a kid that has only played in about 1/3 of the season. In only 42 games, Sanchez has a .337 BA, 19 home runs and 38 RBI’s…..imagine what those numbers would’ve been if he played the entire season.
Sure, there are a lot of young, promising kids in the major leagues right now. In fact, some are calling Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer not only the favorite to win the award but also in the running for the Cy Young award. Fulmer has added a lot of value to his team. He’s played in a lot more games and he looks ace-like. That’s a lot of high praise too.
But the one thing that stands out for me is that Sanchez helped pick up a deflated team. The Yankees were an old decrepit baseball team. They looked like walkers from the walking dead. There was no life to this team. We sold all of the big guns off and were just going to pay until October and then play golf…or at least that is how my dad puts it. This team was just supposed to fall by the way side and look forward to brighter days…..but NO!
Enter Sanchez. In a short amount of time his offense picked up a sleeping team. Suddenly, the gap was getting closer instead of wider. The Yankees are chasing a wild card instead of a long winters nap. He came in with his game face on and revitalized the team. He brought a veteran presence and was an intimidating bat in the lineup. I bet Brad Boxberger wishes he chose differently on Tuesday. Maybe he should’ve listened to Kevin Cash and walked him to pitch to Billy Butler. I bet you he won’t make that mistake again.
A rookie is playing the role of a leader in the Yankees clubhouse. Stats are always important in baseball, but Sanchez performs and gives an exciting new presence to this Yankee team. It’s one thing to be a productive player, but not everyone has that excitement factor. A young kid changed the energy of this team and helped the Yankees start winning again. He adds excitement for not only the end of this season but for many seasons to come.
Stats only get you so far. Memorable players have that extra spark in them and not all players are leaders. Sanchez has become a silent leader for this team and he is that breakout player. Even if major league baseball does not vote him as Rookie of The Year Yankee fans everywhere will know that he is our Rookie of The Year. There is excitement and anticipation in Yankeeland again…..can you feel it? I can’t wait to see what happens.
–Jeana Bellezza, BYB Senior Writer & Editor
Follow me on Twitter: @NYPrincessJ