Since late May, no catcher in Major League Baseball has hit more home runs than Gary Sánchez. The 30-year-old’s struggled to find a home in recent months, but his recent hot streak has now turned him back into a viable catcher for fantasy players. But, should you take a shot in Sánchez? Let’s take a closer look at Sánchez.
A Look at Sanchez
Back in March, the Giants signed former Yankees and Twins catcher Gary Sánchez to a Minor League deal. It was a sensible move to bring in a power-hitting catcher like Sánchez given the Giants’ loss of Roberto Perez and a slumping Joey Bart. However, the emergence of Blake Sabol proved to be a roadblock for Sánchez in San Francisco.
Sánchez would sign with the Mets in May and actually saw a couple of games of action. But once the Mets got Tomas Nido healthy, Sánchez’s time in Queens came to an end. The 30-year-old was DFA’d on May 23, but scooped up quickly by the Padres six days later, a team that could not get much offensive production out of Austin Nola.
Since then, Sánchez has proven to be quite the find for the Padres. The 30-year-old batted .256 — including a .333 average against LHP — with five home runs and 12 RBI over 12 games for the Padres. From May 29-June 11, Sánchez led all catcher in home runs and tied for fourth-most in the league alongside rookie sensation Corbin Carroll. His 12 RBI are tied for eighth-most in the MLB.
There are some promising signs in Sánchez’s numbers. The Padres catcher’s 26.0% Chase% rate and 24.5% Whiff% rates are both much improved from his career norms, and are actually better than league average. Granted, Sánchez has never been a true hacker at the plate, but both are positives for a hitter that looked out of sorts over the past two seasons.
On top of that, Sánchez has been making the most of mistakes. Case in point came against the Cubs on June 5, when Sánchez drilled a Kyle Hendricks changeup that sat knee-high over the left field wall in Petco Park.
We should also note that Sanchez had spells last season where he would fail to get any hits for days on end. Thus far, Sánchez has recorded a hit in nine of his first 12 games wit the Padres, and 10 of 15 overall.
2023 Fantasy Outlook
I’m not going to bluntly state that Gary Sánchez is back and here to stay. However, one can’t talk about Sánchez without complementing how well he’s working pitchers and staying disciplined. The bat speed and strength didn’t go anywhere, hence why Sánchez keeps getting opportunities in the Majors. But after shuttling from Minnesota to San Francisco to Queens within a full year, Sánchez may have found a home in San Diego.
The Padres need offense, so Sánchez will continue to get regular playing time. Yes, one does need to be concerned about regression. Sánchez has a powerful stride and terrific bat speed, but he’s going to strike out a lot.
Plain and simple, I’m more of a cautious buyer on Sánchez. The 30-year-old’s proven he can still produce in the Majors and do damage against left-handers. If you need a catcher, grab him. However, keep his erratic track record in mind.