The Yankees are very high on Gary Sanchez, mainly because of his bat. They are willing to turn a blind eye on his defensive qualities. The backup catcher Austine Romine doesn’t handle the bat in a bad way either but is a better defensive catcher. Who should be behind the plate as regular catcher? Sanchez or Romine?
In the first couple of games before Sanchez hit the DL, the starting pitching was horrible.
Tanaka lasted only 2.2 innings in the season opener in which he gave up seven runs on eight hits. Michael Pineda did not fare much better with 3.2 innings and four runs on eight hits in his season start. Ditto for Luis Severino; he managed to survive five innings but also gave up four runs on six hits. That was the game from which Gary Sanchez was pulled because of a strained biceps. There is one exception… The season start of C.C. Sabathia, who pitched five shutout innings vs the Rays.
With Austin Romine behind the plate, the starting pitching did a lot better all of a sudden. Again one exception: the 14-11 win vs the Orioles in which Sabathia and Bryan Mitchell gave up eleven runs in the first seven innings. With Romine behind the plate, the Yankees went on to have an improbable 14-4 record in the remainder of the month of April. Of course, the Yankee pitching had a LOT of run support during that stretch, but the pitching did an excellent job.
It is known that Austine Romine is a solid defender and that he is calling games very well. He was laureled for it in the minors already. Gary Sanchez is mainly laureled for his bat. He is the typical Yankee catcher who puts up some power numbers. Yankee catchers from the past, like Bill Dickey, Thurman Munson, Jorge Posada and Yogi Berra hit many home runs as well.
Here are some comparisons between the two catchers during the month of April.
After the win vs the Orioles on Saturday, April 29, Joe Girardi made a comment about Austin Romine: “He’s done a really good job with our pitching staff. He’s very bright and he knows what he’s doing back there and he understands how to call a game.”
The problem is there are not many suitable catcher stats to prove the ability of a catcher. According to Fan Graphs, there is no stat to show the quality of game calling.
According to Adam Warren “Game calling is by far,’’ Romine’s best attribute. “We started working at Double-A, and I hardly shake him off. He knows swings and he knows hitters.’’
“I did not,’’ Tyler Clippard said when asked if he shook Romine off at all during his eight-pitch outing. “We trust Ro’ to know exactly what is going on. I shake a lot. I have four different pitches. A lot of times my arsenal is different from the starting pitchers. We were on the same page.’’
These are just a few comments of Yankee pitchers on Romine’s phenomenal game calling abilities. During the period Romine replaced Sanchez, he hit a respectable .316, only because of the regular at-bats he got.
So the question is whether you want a catcher behind the plate who is guiding your pitchers through the game but who doesn’t hit as many home runs, or you want a slugging catcher, whose calling abilities aren’t as good.
Personally, I’d choose a catcher who calls a good game.