Can red-hot Yankees’ Gary Sanchez win Rookie of the Year?

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Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez (24) catches a foul ball against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. (Andy Marlin | USA Today Sports)

NEW YORK — It’s too soon to put Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez in the American League Rookie of the Year conversation.

In fact, he may run out of time before he’s a real candidate, despite his already-outstanding numbers: 10 home runs, a .403 batting average and 20 RBI. And he’s done it all in just 20 games. For his career, he’s the second-fastest player to reach 10 bombs. He did it in 22 games. Two others needed just 21.

And, yes, he’s played sterling defense.

But here’s a quick breakdown of why Sanchez probably won’t be the AL’s top rookie:

MUST SEE: Sanchez hits 10th bomb

MUST SEE: Sanchez hits 10th bomb
Becomes third-fastest player to mark

REGRESSION: This probably doesn’t need to be said, but what are the chances he actually keeps this up? Now that that’s out the way …

HARDLY A PRECEDENT: Yes. Someone has played only a handful of games (relatively speaking) and won a Rookie of th Year award. Hat tip to RiverAveBlues’ Mike Axisa for digging this up:

If Sanchez plays every single game from now through the end of the season, he’ll finish with 55 games played. The fewest games played by a Rookie of the Year position player is 52 by Willie McCovey, who hit .354/.429/.656 (188 OPS+) with the 1959 Giants.

So, it’s happened. But just once. Ryan Howard won the award having played 88 games. That’s way more than Sanchez.

OTHER WORTHY CANDIDATES

Just a few rookies who have kept it up a lot longer than Sanchez:

Tigers RHP Michael Fulmer: 10-4 (20 starts), 2.58 ERA (best among rookies), 104 K (best among rookies)

Indians OF Tyler Naquin: .308 BA (second among rookies), 14 HR (second among rookies), .942 OPS (best among rookies)

Rangers OF Nomar Maraza: .280 BA, 15 HR (tied for most among rookies), 49 RBI (second among rookie)

Twins OF Max Kepler: 15 HR (tied for most among rookies), .817 OPS (third among rookies

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