Gary Sanchez isn’t here for your intentional walks. Gary Sanchez is here to rake.
At least, that’s the impression the hotshot catcher gave the Rays on Saturday afternoon, when he took the first pitch of Enny Romero’s attempted intentional walk and drove it to deep left-center field during the eighth inning.
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It’s not the first time a hitter has tried to capitalize on an intentional walk, either. There have been poorly placed intentional walks, like the walk that was converted into a walk-off home run for the Ole Miss Rebels in 2014. There have been surprise RBI intentional walks, similar to Sanchez’s play, like Miguel Cabrera’s go-ahead RBI single on the first pitch of an intentional walk from the Orioles’ Todd Williams back in 2006. There have also been explosive intentional walks, like the 1980 Phillies-Dodgers brawl that was ignited after Los Angeles catcher Joe Ferguson swung through Tug McGraw’s attempted intentional walk for a two-RBI single in the ninth inning.
If you’re wondering what Statcast does with an intentional-walk-turned-sac-fly, this is what happens:
Gary Sanchez intentional ball sac fly was the slowest pitch put in play this year... 51.8 MPH.— Daren Willman (@darenw) September 10, 2016
Sanchez hit the old-fashioned way, too, going back-to-back with Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning on a long home run to center field. When he hasn’t been exploiting slow outside pitches for RBIs, the rookie catcher has maintained an average exit velocity of 92.8 m.p.h. over his last five games, 3.7 miles faster than the league average.
Next time, don’t be surprised if he hits it over the fence.