Has Gary Sanchez Played Enough to Win AL Rookie of the Year?

Gary Sanchez has done it again. He hit a go-ahead 3-run home-run with 2 outs in the 7th inning against the Rays, propelling the Yankees to much needed win. Now the question is: Can Gary Sanchez win Rookie of the Year, despite the fact that he will have played less than 60 games?
Gary Sanchez
There is a precedent in the MLB that it is not entirely impossible. Willie McCovey won the Rookie of the Year award unanimously despite having only played 52 games. If Gary Sanchez doesn’t get any days off before the end of the season (and why would he?), he will have played in 54 games this season.

When McCovey won the award, he slashed .354/.429/.656 (1.085 OPS) with 13 homers and 38 RBIs. His WAR was 3.1. Currently, Sanchez is slashing .327/.399/.710 (1.109 OPS…insane) with 17 homers and 33 RBIs. His WAR is 2.5. Not to mention the fact that he plays above average defense having thrown out nine of 25 potential base stealers (36%).  They are comparable, no question.

But are there other deserving rookies that have played more games than Sanchez? Let’s take a look at what many people believe are the potential front runners for the award:

  1. Michael Fulmer (SP – DET): Fulmer has pitched tremendously for the Tigers this season, although he has been coming back to earth of late. He is 10-7 with a sparkling 3.03 ERA, 1.08 WHIP with 120 Ks in 148.2 IP. Good for a WAR of 4.7.
  2. Tyler Naquin (CF – CLE): Naquin has currently played 106 games slashing .302/.372/.539 (0.911 OPS) with 14 homers and 42 RBIs. His WAR is 0.6.
  3. Max Kepler (RF – MIN): Kepler has currently played 103 games slashing .238/.312/.432 (0.744 OPS) with 16 homers and 60 RBIs. His WAR is 2.5.
  4. Dylan Bundy (RP – BAL): Bundy has pitched in 35 games (13 as a starter) for 104.2 IP. He has a 4.13 ERA, 1.40 WHIP with 99 Ks. His WAR is 1.5.
  5. Cheslor Cuthbert (3B – KC): Cuthbert has currently played in 116 games slashing .273/.313/.408 (0.720 OPS) with 10 homers and 43 RBIs. His WAR is 0.3.
  6. Tim Anderson (SS – CHW): Anderson has currently played in 87 games slashing .279/.302/.405 (0.707 OPS) with 7 homers and 25 RBIs. His WAR is 1.9.

Looking at this list, Gary Sanchez should rank above every hitter. The main competition in my eyes is going to be Fulmer vs Sanchez. How will the voters view Fulmer’s recent major decline (0-4 with 6.28 ERA and 1.36 WHIP)? Does he get a pass with the voters attributing it to fatigue since he has pitched more innings this year between the minors and majors than he ever has in his career? That is totally possible. You can argue Sanchez would have a similar decline if he played all season especially with the wear and tear catching brings.

But if Sanchez finishes with 20+ homers and 45+ RBIs while batting .300, it is going to be awfully tough not to vote for him. There is a precedence for winning the award with under 60 games played and in this year’s relatively weak rookie class, especially compared to last season, I think Sanchez could win the award.

What do you think? Does Sanchez deserve to win Rookie of the Year?

[Image Credit: Fansided.com]

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