Look Out Story, Here Comes Sanchez

Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez has done something this season that no other rookie has done since, well since Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story did to start the season. Sanchez has hit nine home runs in his first 21 games. He is only one of nine players in MLB history to have 15 or more extra base hits in 21 games and only the second Yankee to do it. Let’s not forget those 21 games include two games in 2015 that he was called up for and one games on May 13th this season before he was sent back to Triple-A.

Though Story and Sanchez do share this honor of being two of a very few hitters to have nine home runs in their first 21 games they both are very different hitters. Story has produced a lot of power this season, but he is not the all-around hitter that Sanchez is showing to be. Story’s home runs are wall scrapers, with an average home run distance of 327 feet, while Sanchez hits not doubter and averages 409 feet. In 2016 Story has an average exit velocity of 91.5 mph as compared to Sanchez’s 94.6 mph. Don’t take my word for it though let’s dive deeper in to what these two rookies did in their first 21 games in the big leagues.

In his first 21 games with the Diamondbacks Trevor Story was putting balls over the wall like it was going out of style. He had ten home runs, one more than Sanchez, but he was prone to the strikeout. Through those first 21 games Story had 35 strikeouts in 97 plate appearances, he was striking out in 36% of his plate appearances. He had a .253 batting average, a .320 on-base percentage and nine walks (only walking in 9% of his PAs).
Sanchez on the other hand has not shown so far to be an all or nothing player. He is hitting .389 with a .450 OBP, only striking out 15 times in 80 plate appearances (19% of the time he strikes out) and walking 10% of the time with 8 walks so far.

Comparing two players strictly based on a 21 game sample size is far from fair and when you look at their minor league numbers these two players do look more similar than they do different with Story having a minor league slash line of .263/.348/.469 and Sanchez .275/.339/.460, but what they will do in the majors long term is still yet to be seen. What is fair to say is that both Sanchez and Story have shown they belong in the big leagues and love to put on a show for the fans. Only thing not enjoying their promotions this year are the baseballs.

(Photo Credit: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Gary Sanchez) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
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Waiver Wire Add, Randal Grichuk

Randal Grichuk came in to the 2016 season with a lot of hype coming off of a break out season in 2015, but we soon found out that past performance doesn’t always lead to future success. Grichuk started the season with a .206 batting average and eight home runs in 62 games, with a horrible .276 OBP and .392 slugging percentage. This lead to him being demoted to Triple-A to try and find his swing. After being recalled on July 5th he lasted another 22 games before his second demotion of the season. This wasn’t the last we would see of him in St. Louis, but by this point many fantasy owners had already give up on a repeat of 2015 and some may have considered him a bust.

Randal Grichuk
By Minda Haas Kuhlmann on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Nine games later Grichuk was recalled again on August 11th. Since then he has been a man on fire. His triple slash line since the promotion is .341/.356/.886. He has five home runs, seven doubles and a triple. To go along with those numbers, he has 11 RBI and 7 runs. He has been hitting the ball well and playing daily for the Cardinals and has begun to give fantasy owners new hope. Though he still doesn’t walk enough, one walk in 12 games, and strikes out way too much, 15 K’s in 12 games, he is putting the bat to the ball and raised his contact rate to 70%. Currently Mike Matheny has been batting him in the 7th or 8th spot in the Cardinals lineup, but other than Matt Carpenter there is no one in St. Louis’s batting order that would stop Matheny from moving Grichuk to the top third giving him even more fantasy value.

Grichuk is owned in less than 50% of all CBSSports.com leagues and should be owned moving forward in at least 70% of leagues. Don’t forget he came in to 2016 owned in 89% of leagues and has already moved up from his lowest ownership percentage of 30% quite a bit. If he is on your waiver wire, make sure you pounce while you still can.

(Players to drop for Randall Grichuk: Giancarlo Stanton, Max Kepler, Andrew Benintendi, Josh Reddick, Michael Saunders.)

Need to Replace Stanton, How About Haniger?

If you images_5_orighaven’t heard the name Mitch Haniger, you may not be alone. Haniger is a 25-year-old prospect who made his MLB debut last week for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He didn’t get much in the way of hype in the minor leagues this season and when he received his promotion on August 16th there wasn’t much in the way of fanfare. With all that being said it may be a good idea to put Haniger on your radar.

Mitch Haniger is an outfielder who was drafted in the first round, pick 38, of the 2012 draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo by the Milwaukee Brewers. Haniger played in Milwaukee’s minor league system until part way through 2014 when he was traded to Arizona. In his two plus years as a Brewers farm hand he didn’t do anything all that impressive. His average was in the mid .200s, he had one season between Low-A and High-A that he hit 15 home runs and stole 10 bases, but again not any eye popping numbers. In 2015, his first full season in the Diamondbacks minor league system something changed however. That year he had a .310/.368/.515 slash line, hit 13 home runs in 104 games and stole 12 bases between High-A and Double-A.

As a minor leaguer in 2016 Haniger spent time at both Double-A and Triple-A before being called up. During that time, he played in 119 games, had an even better slash line of .325/.423/.588 with 24 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 86 RBIs. Some may point out that he was a little old for the levels he was playing at, but I choose to look at the glass half-full. Haniger may have just needed a little more time to grow in to his skill set, remember he was the 38th pick in 2012 and not a late rounder.

In Haniger’s six games since being called up he has a .304/.385/.478 slash line with three walks and eight strikeouts. Yes, it is a small sample size, but the fact that he is maintaining his batting average success and putting the ball in play 58% of the time is a good sign. His home run power hasn’t yet made an appearance, but he has had two doubles and a triple in those six games.

Haniger is not the guy you run out and get on your fantasy roster while dropping a usable player, but if you were the Giancarlo Stanton, Shin-Soo Choo, or Matt Holliday owner then you may still be looking for a bat to plug in to your outfield. If Keon Broxton, our favorite widely available outfielder isn’t available in your league, then Haniger may be a good speculative add. As of right now he is available in 90% of CBSSports.com leagues.