Gary Sanchez‘s first 72 at-bats this season have been exceptional. Sanchez has hit nine home runs in 19 games. He’s hitting .389/.450/.847 while also providing solid defense at catcher with an outstanding arm (he’s gunned down five of eight attempted basestealers).
Sanchez’s hot streak has also brought the Yankees’ to the periphery of the American League wild-card race. New York is now five games back thanks to a 13-9 August.
All of that leads to an interesting, if highly unlikely, possibility.
Sanchez is eligible for the American League Rookie of the Year race. He’s not going to win the award in a year where Tigers righthander Michael Fulmer is 10-4, 2.58, but he might earn a spot in the top five. And if he doesn’t get another 56 at-bats, he’ll be eligible for next year’s Rookie of the Year award as well.
Amazingly, players have earned rookie of the year votes in multiple years before. Mets infielder Gregg Jefferies hit .321/.364/.596 in 109 at-bats, and helped the Mets to the playoffs in 1988. That helped him garner enough votes to finish in sixth place in the 1988 National League Rookie of the Year race. A year later, Jefferies was still eligible for rookie honors. He hit .258/.314/.392 to finish third in 1989’s ROY vote.
So Sanchez is climbing in the 2016 Rookie of the Year race. And while he’s likely to blow past 130 major league at-bats to lose his rookie status, it’s still possible he could be a favorite for the 2017 honor as well.