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Gary Sanchez’s kicking of leg habit leading to more success at plate for Yankees

Gary Sanchez Yankees
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but everyone’s favorite Yankees catcher to point the proverbial finger at is playing well — though those same naysayers either won’t admit it or don’t want you to say it too loud should you awaken the baseball gods to reverse things back to how the way they’ve been over much of the previous three seasons.

But Gary Sanchez has been one of the Yankees’ best hitters over his last 19 games, prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Oakland Athletics, the veteran backstop was slashing .328/.397/.689, good for a 1.086 OPS with six home runs and 12 RBI. 

It’s raised his season average from a worrisome .174 to a somewhat more respectable .229 while he ranks third on the team in round-trippers, on-base percentage, and fourth in RBI.

The big thing that has changed for Sanchez is the elimination of a high leg kick at the plate, allowing him to shorten his approach and keep his body under control.

“He’s worked really, really hard behind the scenes on having the courage to make some real adjustments,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But it’s been rooted in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours and correcting that. Now you’re seeing a quiet lower half, a much more balanced hitter.”

Such a small adjustment is a rather sizable undertaking for a pro ballplayer that has made it as far as Sanchez has with certain mechanics.

“It’s hard to make real significant mechanical changes when you’re in a day-to-day game and he’s made those,” Boone said. “You look at his lower half now and how quiet it is and how balanced he is, it looks a lot different than it did a month ago where he had that big leg-kick hold in the air. I think that was really destroying a lot of his timing and causing him to miss some pitches that he should be on.”

It’s a welcome development for a Yankees offense that looks as though they are finally coming out of the doldrums of a miserable start to the 2021 season. They’ve won four of their last five after getting off to their slowest start since 2008 while averaging just over five runs per game.

 

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