Yolmer Sanchez finally understands his limitations as a player. He has a better sense for what he can and can’t do on the field.
An improved grasp of his abilities seems to have made quite a difference. Both Sanchez and the White Sox think that development is key to the second baseman’s growth. Now in his fourth season, Sanchez has taken an important step forward in establishing himself as a major leaguer. With three games left before the All-Star break, Sanchez has produced a career-best 1.2 f-Wins Above Replacement in 2017.
“His confidence has really blossomed from last year to this year,” said third-base coach and former farm director Nick Capra. “He’s always had the talent and ability to play up here. But I’m not sure he was sure of himself at the time. He’s played with a lot more confidence and he looks like he’s sure of himself now.”
Sanchez, 25, has never been short on confidence, especially in the clubhouse. He’s upbeat, energetic and always joking with teammates.
The second baseman has no shame, either, which often leads to humorously awkward interactions with teammates during their media sessions.
There are the uncomfortable hugs he delivers. Those are usually accompanied by congratulations for accomplishments. And Sanchez always seems to have time to ask a fake interview question or two.
He’s like the kid brother who never leaves his sibling’s side.
“He’s always been like that,” outfielder Avisail Garcia said. “He’s always joking around.
“Wow. He’s never quiet though. It’s fine. It’s good. That’s something you want to have in the dugout and the clubhouse.”
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That persona has carried over to the field this season. Sanchez — who changed his name from Carlos to Yolmer (his real name and the one his wife yells when she’s angry — has had plenty of moments since he first arrived in the majors in the summer of 2014. This year those instances have been more consistent.
Sanchez is hitting .268/.331/.397 with 19 extra-base hits in 267 plate appearances. He also has accounted for 5 Defensive Runs Saved at second base, according to fangraphs.com, and has an Ultimate Zone Rating of 2.6. Sanchez thinks it’s a byproduct of experience and knowing how to stay collected.
“Be patient and when you get the opportunity to show what you can do, don’t try to do too much,” Sanchez said. “Don’t try to do things you can’t do. I just try to do my job. They know what type of player I am … when I got here I tried to hit a homer every time. Right now I know I can hit a homer, but I’m not going to hit 30 homers a year. I learned what kind of player I am and what I can do for my team, my teammates and what ways I can help most.”
Much like teammate Melky Cabrera, Sanchez thinks the enthusiasm he brings to the park every day is a good thing for the club. Sanchez looks up to Cabrera, who constantly has teammates laughing in an attempt to keep things loose. Sanchez said he never wants to allow himself to think he’s tired and tries to bring endless energy.
That’s why in years past you’ve seen him rocking Adam Eaton like a baby in the dugout. Or perhaps you’ve caught his faux-territorial arguments with Jose Abreu on easy pop ups (hint: the much larger first baseman wins every time).
“If you say ‘I’m tired,’ in your mind you’re going to be tired,” Sanchez said. “Just try to have fun every day and bring a lot of energy.
“Every day is like my first day. I enjoy every single day I come to the ballpark. When you work hard for something and you get it, you’re excited, you try to enjoy it. I have it every time when I get to the ballpark. I love coming here, playing with my teammates and having fun. Nothing has changed from Day One I got the big leagues.”