Here’s the catch: Sanchez is top AL rookie

Should Gary Sanchez, stalwart Yankees catcher, be American League Rookie of the Year?

Why not? In less than two months, Sanchez has already hit 19 home runs (fastest player ever to reach that number), to go along with 38 RBIs and a .337 batting average. He was named AL Player of the Month in August, when he also won consecutive Player of the Week honors.

And equipped with a strong throwing arm and pitch-calling capabilities, his defense is every bit as good as his offense.

If Sanchez plays in the rest of the Yankees games this year, he will wind up with 54….which is exactly one third of a season.

And despite limited duty, Sanchez numbers stack up well against Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer (10-7, 3:30 ERA), who has dropped four of his last five decisions. Others in the rookie mix include Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin (14-42-.3010, Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazaro (20-64-.275) and Twins outfielder Max Kepler (16-60-.232).

There is precedent for winning the Rookie of the Year award while playing less than 100 games. Just last year, Houston’s Carlos Correa appeared in 99 games. Will Myers (88 games in 2013), Ryan Howard (88 games in 2005) and Bob Horner (89 games in 1978) were all named top rookie.

Hall of Famer Willie McCovey played only 52 games for the Giants in 1959, yet was named NL Rookie of the Year. Stretch — who broke in on July 30 that year with a pair of triples in a 4-for-4 day against the Phillies — hit .354 with 13 HRs and 38 RBIs. McCovey earned all 24 votes for Rookie of the Year.

Some might argue that Cincinnati’s Vada Pinson, who had 20 homers, 84 RBIs and a .316 batting average, was the most deserving NL Rookie of the Year candidate in 1959. Pinson led the league in runs (131), doubles (47) and outfield putouts (423), earning him 11 MVP votes. However he failed to qualify for the Rookie of the Year award because his 96 at bats in 1958 were just beyond the 90 cutoff.

Bob Gibson of St. Louis made his MLB debut in 1959, although he won just three of eight games. Other notable NL rookies in 1959 were future Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson, who hit .218 in his only season with the Phillies, and speedster Maury Wills, who would later go on to break the single season stolen base record with the Dodgers.

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Triple Your Pleasure With These Fun Facts

Before Jose Reyes injured his hamstring last week and went on the DL, he was on pace to accomplish something that hasn’t been done in 99 years — hit 30 triples in a season. Reyes has 15 with nearly half a season to go, but right now it’s unclear when he will return to the Mets lineup.

The triple is one of the most exciting plays in baseball, a combination of power and speed. Here are 10 things you may not know about baseball’s three-base hit.

1. John Owen “Chief” Wilson of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit 36 triples in 1912 to lead the National League and set the all-time record for a single season. Nobody has come within 10 triples of that total since. Wilson, a native of Austin, Texas, who also played for the St. Louis Cardinals, never hit more than 14 in any season of his nine-year career.

2. Only two other players have ever hit 30 triples in a season. Dave Orr with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association in 1886 and Heinie Reitz  with the Baltimore Orioles of the National League in 1894 each finished with 31 triples.

3. Wahoo Sam Crawford, below right, of the Detroit Tigers is the all-time career leader in triples with 309. The Hall of Famer broke in with the Cincinnati Reds, but played most of his career — and hit most of his triples — for the Detroit Tigers.

4. Three other Hall of Famers — Crawford’s teammate Ty Cobb (297), Honus Wagner(252)  and Jake Beckley (244) — rank second, third and fourth in career triples. Cobb is the all-time American League leader in triples, and Wagner the all-time NL champ.

5. In the past 60 years, no player has hit more triples than Curtis Granderson, who had 23 with the 2007 Tigers. The last player to hit more than 23 was Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler, with 26 triples in 1925 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

6. Miguel Tejada of the Oakland A’s holds the record for most at bats in a season without a triple, 662 in 2002. Sammy Sosa of the Cubs holds the National League record with 643 — during a season in which he hit 66 home runs.

7. Four players — including Hall of Famer Willie McCovey of the San Francisco Giants in 1959 — share the record with two triples in their first major league games. Ed Irvin, Ray Weatherly and John Sipin also accomplished the feat.

8. Only two players have hit four triples in a game. George Strief with the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association in 1885 and Bill Joyce with the New York Giants of the NL in 1897.

9. Sam Crawford and Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals each led the AL in triples five times, and Stan Musial of the Cardinals had five triples crowns to lead the NL. Crawford also led the NL in triples once, with the Reds.

10. Shano Collins, who played for the White Sox and Red Sox between 1910 and 1925, holds the record with eight bases-loaded triples. Hall of Famer Stan Musial of the Cardinals hit seven for the NL record.