A couple of days ago, CC Sabathia had this to say about Gary Sanchez
“I think Sanchy’s probably the best hitter in the lineup, you don’t talk about him at all. He has power to all fields. He reminds me of a young Manny Ramirez. That’s enough said right there.”
There’s no question that Gary Sanchez is the best offensive catcher in the major leagues right now, but is his hitting really better than Aaron Judge’s or Giancarlo Stanton’s? Let’s investigate.
Although Judge seemed to fizzle a bit down the stretch last year, the 6 foot 7 giant had a monster year in 2017. Judge slugged 52 dingers, including this monster bomb off Logan Verrett.
Now the reigning NL MVP, Stanton led the major leagues with his 59 home runs, and 132 RBIs. He also likes to crush monster dingers, as evidenced by this opposite field moonshot from earlier today.
Now, let’s look into the advanced numbers and see if we can find a consensus winner.
First up, we’ll compare line drive percentage. The more line drives a player hits, generally the more they’re able to hit balls past fielders, or get under one for a home run.
Line drive percentage (per Fangraphs):
Aaron Judge: 21.9%
Gary Sanchez: 21.1%
Giancarlo Stanton: 16%
Winner: Aaron Judge by a hair.
Next, fly ball percentage. Most home runs are just deep fly balls, and the good hitters nowadays focus on trying to loft the ball. (per Fangraphs)
Winner: Judge by a few.
Lastly, we’ll address CC’s point that Gary Sanchez has power to all fields. While we know he can put the ball out of anywhere in the diamond, how balanced is his hitting approach? Numbers from Fangraphs.
Pull% Center% Oppo%
Judge: 41.4% 30.8% 27.8%
Sanchez: 51.5% 31.2% 15.2%
Stanton: 44.6% 35.2% 20.1%
As you can see, Judge is hitting the ball almost evenly across the entire diamond. This will make him less susceptible to shifts as teams try to figure out ways to get him out. I believe that he’ll make the adjustments to lower his strikeouts over the next few years, and it’s even conceivable that Judge chases Barry’s single season home run record sometime soon.
Gary Sanchez is hitting over 80% of balls to the pull side of centre, which isn’t the end of the world. However, this could lead to other teams trying to induce rollover hits by pitching him exclusively outside.
Now that he’s playing at Yankee Stadium, Giancarlo Stanton could hit 60+ home runs in 2018. If you argued in favor of Stanton as the team’s best hitter, there’s certainly plenty of ammo to support that side.
My argument is far from thorough, I’m sure more than a few of you agree with CC Sabathia on this one. In my opinion, Gary Sanchez is the best power hitting catcher I’ve seen in the majors since Mike Piazza. But is he better than both Judge and Sanchez? Personally, I need to see a bit more.
Luckily, we get to watch 162 games with all of them while we figure it out.