Last year, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez had one of the finest rookie call-ups in recent memory. The 24-year-old hit .299 with a .376 OBP, 20 homers, 42 RBIs and 34 runs in 53 games.
Is Sanchez as good as those 53 games suggest?
“I think so,” four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think it was not a fluke. I think he had a very good understanding of what he wants to do in the batter’s box. He had this presence, almost intimidating. It’s like he’s not going to be fooled by pitches. He really impressed me very much in spring training, just having at-bats and just working on the things he needed to work on. You have to realize he still has this big responsibility to handle that pitching staff. They’re going to depend so much on him to do that, and he still has the hitting to do. This has to be a bonus. The fact that he has both sides of the plate covered, it’s pretty impressive at this young age.”
Williams, 48, played for the Yankees from 1991-2006. He was teammates with Alex Rodriguez for three seasons and, in fact, played with Rodriguez during A-Rod’s 2005 MVP season.
Rodriguez, 41, played his final game last August and is now a special adviser to the Yankees.
“From my perspective, I think for whatever it’s worth, his relationship with the team as a player does not negate the fact that he is just a student of the game,” Williams said. “The knowledge that he has about baseball is something that’s worth having. It’s worth having around the clubhouse. It’s worth having him talk to young players about his experience. For whatever it’s worth, I think it’s a very valuable asset for the team.”
Rodriguez will make $21.5 million from the Yankees this season.
“Obviously they have made some arrangement with him about his contract and this and that, but that’s just the business part of the game,” Williams said. “A-Rod the person, as a valuable asset for the Yankees, I think it makes sense because he studies the game and he has so much knowledge of the game that a lot of the young guys on the team will benefit from his expertise.”
Williams also weighed in on MLB’s latest rule changes, including the proposal to move the strike zone to the top of a hitter’s knees.
“As a hitter, I would not like that,” Williams said. “Making that strike zone bigger means I would have to change my approach, my mental approach. I would have to probably chase pitches that I may not want to chase. It’ll definitely have an impact on my numbers overall, and I don’t think I would like it that much.”