This isn’t a joke. Someone actually defended Gary Sanchez’s defensive prowess behind the plate.
Before I dig in on this, I will be the first to say people who catch in high school and beyond are certifiably insane and should consider getting help. Same goes for hockey goalies.
As much as I bust their chops, I love a good defensive catcher. Give me a guy who can’t hit his weight that calls a great game and blocks every pitch over an offensive catcher who’s meh on defense any day.
Which brings us back to the main topics, this tweet:
Now you might think Seth is trolling Sanchez or something, because anyone who’s watched a high school baseball game knows Sanchez is an abysmal catcher.
That is not the case. Seth actually thinks Sanchez is god behind the plate.
I will grant him this, Sanchez has a cannon. Can’t take that away from him.
But if you know anything about catching, you know that’s probably the least important quality for a catch in the grand scheme of things. (Good footwork can mask this. Can’t say I’ve ever studied Sanchez’s footwork.)
The way a guy calls a game is number 1, by far. Am I biased because I think like a pitcher? Yes. Am I still right though? Yes.
Jason Varitek will forever be the best example of this. Guy couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn after 2005, yet he still played in at least 100 games every year from 2006-2009 — and was even an all-star in 2008, when he hit .218 with seven home runs before the break.
Varitek also struggled to throw guys out towards the end, but his staff still shoved so no one cared.
On one hand you’ve got a maniac who studied hours of video everyday so his guys could dice up opposing pitchers, as opposed to the other who couldn’t even remember the DAMN SIGNS and is almost solely responsible for MLB instituting a mound visit rule.
Seth didn’t mentioned his game-calling, but he did bring up his framing. I can’t recall ever seeing Sanchez frame a pitch because I’m usually hung up on the pitches he manages to drop. They don’t all show up on a stat sheet as passed balls because there aren’t runners on base, but you watch a game with Sanchez behind the dish and you’ll what I’m saying.
And I promise you that a pitcher sees that and is thinking, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” Then he tightens up, tries to do too much and leaves the game with a severe case of whiplash.
But he somehow frames pitches?
I’d be more curious to know if he’s some how learned how to stick pitches since May, because I know he couldn’t back then. (Yes, I know there’s a typo in the tweet.)
You can still steal plenty of calls if you do that right. You don’t need to frame pitches.
Also, the guy was tied for the MLB lead in passed balls in 2018 (16) with Yasmani Grandal. This year he leads in passed balls (9) all by himself
We’ve covered his arm and touched on his footwork when throwing guys out, numbers 5 and 4, respectively, on the list of important qualities you look for in a defensive catcher. Then there’s number 1 pitch selection and number 2 receiving (some might flip-flop those, doesn’t matter either way).
That leaves number 3. Blocking. This is more about how he bails his guys out than handling balls he should catch or block, which is why I don’t mention the passed balls here.
I don’t watch as many Yankee games as my guy Seth, but I have certainly seen enough to know this is NOT an area of strength for Sanchez. And a pitcher needs to trust their catcher’s going to block the occasional off-speed pitch in the dirt in order to throw it with conviction.
One of two things happen when they can’t trust him:
- Pitcher throws a ball that’s ineffective because he guides it
- Pitcher throws up a fatty that’s too much for even Cheech and Chong to handle
Last thing in this extended post, anyone notice who’s been catching Sonny Gray since April 25th? Here’s a hint: it ain’t Sanchez.
Gray’s still had handful of rough outings, but he’s finally showing glimpses of his “old” self again (3.96 ERA, 44 K’s in 52.1 innings over 9 starts).
Sanchez is not a good defensive catcher. Probably never will be. He doesn’t even look like a good hitter right now, even by catching standards.
I get that Seth works for the YES Network, he doesn’t want to criticize the players. The move here is to probably not touch it.
This isn’t a matter of a good or bad take. Maybe it’s a lazy one? Either way, there are so many flaws in Sanchez’s game behind the plate that it’s impossible to defend him in any capacity (pun not intended).