By the end, Gary Sanchez had become such a toxic subject around the Yankees that it was almost impossible to remember why there had ever been such a groundswell of hype and hope surrounding him in the first place. By the end, his offensive regressions and defensive transgressions had become the equivalent of a 1-2 cry for action.
For Yankees fans. And for Sanchez, too. After things had finally gotten as bad as they were going to get for Sanchez last year, his body language and his mood all but asked one of the saddest questions a New York athlete has had to ask in quite some time:
That first month. Do you remember? In the moment, in August 2016, it felt like taking a real-time home movie of the first furlong of a Hall of Fame career. The Alex Rodriguez saga had finally ended. The Yankees, for one of the only times ever, had been sellers at the trade deadline. Sanchez showed up for work Aug. 4, went 2-for-4 with a double, and never stopped hitting.
The first home run came on Aug. 10, a breathtaking blast to deep center field at Fenway Park off Boston’s Junichi Tazawa. He hit two against the Blue Jays, two more against the Mariners. But he wasn’t just about power: On Aug. 28, 90 plate appearances into his August tryout, Sanchez was hitting .425 with an OPS of 1.426. He was playing solid defense, showing off a big arm.