Yes you read the title correctly I want Kyle Higashioka to start Game 1 in the MLB Playoffs this year over Gary Sanchez. Now you’re probably calling me crazy and delusional but there are reasons why I said what I said. Gary Sanchez has been our starting Catcher since he burst onto the scene in 2016 and since then has been considered the best offensive catcher in baseball. Since 2016 Gary Sanchez has a .237 BA with 113 HR’s, 281 RBI’s, .824 OPS, 116 OPS +, with a .503 SLG%. But 2020 hasn’t done good for El Gary because the man has .134 BA but advance stats say those numbers don’t actually represent that Batting Average. Gary’s Hard Hit% is up from last year, Gary’s Barrel% is still very good (Barrel% is when someone makes contact if it’s squared up with the ball), and finally Gary’s Exit Velocity is right around MPH so in conclusion Gary isn’t hitting bad he’s just getting unlucky. Kyle Higashioka has been in the Yankee system since 2008 (yeah I didn’t know that either) and since the departure of Austin Romine Kyle has stepped up big time. Last night the man had 3 HR’s in a win over the Jays, now you’re asking, “so why do you think Kyle should get the nod over Gary the best offensive catcher in baseball in game 1?” Well I’ll give you the positives and negatives for my take and I’ll let you decide if you agree or not.
Positives: The main reason for Higgy to start Game 1 is because of Gerrit Cole. In 20 IP with Higgy, Cole has recorded a 0.90 ERA (2 ER) with 9 H’s, 5 BB’s, and 27 K’s. Yeah that’s pretty dominant compared to Cole’s stats with Gary behind the dish, 46 IP, 3.91 ERA (20 ER), 11 K/9. Higgy in a small sample size this season has been racking in 35 AB Higgy has a .250 BA, with 9 H’s, 4 HR’s with a .833 OPS (Above Average), 120 OPS+ (Above Average), .583 SLG% (Above Average). To put that into perspective, JT Realmuto the best catcher in baseball in most people’s eyes has a .883 OPS, 133 OPS+, and .527% SLG%. I’m not saying Higgy is in the same universe as JT but numbers even in a small sample size don’t lie. Now in the playoff setting losing Gary’s bat won’t be a crucial loss for the Bronx Bombers they’ll still have two MVP candidates in Luke Voit and DJ LeMahieu and other guys like that Aaron Judge guy, that Giancarlo Stanton person, and that Gleyber Torres kid. It’s safe to say having Gary’s bat out of the lineup won’t kill the Yankees.
Negatives: Well all that negative talk about Gary above is all in the past now because Gary Sanchez is one of the best power hitters regardless of position. Gary Sanchez just last year was an All Star then his stats fell off due to a IL stint. “What does that have to do with why he should start Game1?” Well stats won’t show that Gary is a good Postseason hitter but the threat of Gary hitting nukes is the reason you put him in the lineup. If the Yankees are down by 3 runs let’s say and the bases are loaded in a playoff situation would you rather have Gary Sanchez or Kyle Higashioka. Yeah that’s what I thought. Plus we know Gary can have a big hit in the playoffs like when he had that double against the Astros that helped us bring the series back, and that time he owned the Red Sox in 2018. The matter of the fact is having the threat of Gary Sanchez in the lineup compared to having Higashioka will put more stress on the pitcher and maybe that slight bit more of stress will leave a pitch over the middle for Gary to crush out.
My Opinion: I want Gary’s bat in the lineup but I also want Higgy and Cole. Pitching will win us series because the last two times we’ve been to the ALCS we lost because of lack of pitching. So if we start off every series 1-0 because of Higgy and Cole I’ll take that 100% of the time because I know our offense will take care of the job with or without Gary. Maybe we can figure something out with the lineup, maybe put Stanton in left and put Gary DH but at this point I’d rather have Clint in the lineup than Gary.