Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez needed 92 at-bats in 21 games last season to hit six home runs.
He needed 60 fewer at-bats this season.
Sanchez hit three home runs in Sunday's 15-3 win over the Orioles to move into a tie with the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger for the MLB lead and take sole possession of the American League lead.
"He's a great player that is still growing, and it's our job to help him continue to reach his peak in every facet of the game," manager Aaron Boone said, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "He's making strides in a lot of areas of the game. We know we've got a special talent on our hands and a guy that impacts the game, period."
Sanchez went 3-for-6 with two-run homers in the third, seventh and eighth innings. He had a chance to become the first Yankee since Lou Gehrig to hit four home runs in a game when he stepped up to the plate in the ninth off Orioles infielder Hanser Alberto.
"I tried to do what everyone was thinking about, but I got under it too much," Sanchez said.
Instead, he flew out to left.
"He just missed it,'' Clint Frazier, who went 4-for-5 with two homers, said, according to the Bergen Record's Pete Caldera. "That would've been the way to top it off.''
Still, not a bad day for Sanchez. Especially considering how he ended 2018.
While Sanchez spent significant time on the DL, he only hit six home runs in his final 50 games (179 at-bats) last season, finishing with a .186/.291/.406 batting line.
He's started 2019 right, slashing .250/.333/.813 with six home runs and nine RBIs through eight games. And those numbers are reminiscent of when he burst onto the scene as a mid-season call-up in 2016 (.299/.376/.657) and when he hit .278/.345/.531 with 33 home runs and 90 RBIs in his first full major-league season in 2017.
"I feel good at the plate right now," Sanchez said. "I'm making adjustments. I'm controlling the zone. That has been the plan, and I just feel good overall."
Even his teammates have noticed.
"I think it's a really good thing that he's driving the ball again," fellow catcher Austin Romine said. "He looks comfortable. I know we're all comfortable when he's hitting the ball out of the park. It was pretty special to see three balls go out, and he just missed a fourth one."
Considering all the injuries to the Yankees' lineup -- Aaron Hicks, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar -- Sanchez's hot start helped lead the Yankees to a sweep entering a three-game series with the Astros.
"Sometimes it takes the whole 40-man roster,'' Frazier said.