Yesterday afternoon, New York Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch of MLB.com sent a tweet saying Aaron Boone is giving more playing time to catcher Kyle Higashioka.
Kyle Higashioka will be getting more playing time. Aaron Boone said that he had a conversation with Gary Sanchez about the situation.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 27, 2021
Given Gary Sánchez’s trouble making contact at bat and spotty defense behind the plate, it’s easy to understand why. But make no mistake, Higashioka has earned the right to play more. His hitting stats are the best on the team, by far. Going into tonight’s game against the Orioles, Higgy’s slash-line is .320/.414/,880. His OPS (1.294) is over 400 points higher than Aaron Judge (.885), who has the second highest.
On the defensive side of the ball, the 31 year old Higashioka has proven to be dependable behind the plate. When he is catching, Yankees Twitter is a much calmer place to be during the game. It’s no secret Gerrit Cole likes working with Higgy, who knew Gerrit when both were being scouted by David Keith in 2008 for the Yankees. Sánchez caught Cole on Opening Day, and hasn’t done so since. It’s interesting to note the Yankees have a record of 5-3 in games Higashioka started behind the plate, and the team is 5-12 in games Gary Sánchez started. That’s not all on Gary, but I believe there’s certainly more comfort on days Higgy catches.
It’s been a long road for Higashioka, who’s been with the Yankees his entire career. He spent a lot of years riding buses in the minor leagues, climbing each rung of the ladder. I got a close up look at Higgy when the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders played the Buffalo Bisons on Opening Day 2019.
No doubt, Higashioka has earned his way over the years. With so many bonus babies being fast-tracked to the majors, it’s rewarding to see someone like Kyle succeed and thrive.