We all know how incredible Gary Sanchez‘s power at the plate is, but the cannon he packs behind it has the New York Yankees in awe.It’s safe to say that the New York Yankees are starting to get the vibe that catcher Gary Sanchez simply hates baserunners. He hits home runs at a rapid pace so he isn’t one and throws them out so they stay off the basepaths.
Whatever the reason may be, the Sanchize’s power from both at the plate and behind the plate has the baseball world eager to witness him perform over a full season in the bigs.
During his 53-game stint in 2016, the 24-year-old not only became the fastest player in baseball history (45 games) to reach the 18 home run mark and later tied Wally Berger as the fastest to reach 20, but he also hosed down runners at an epic rate.
In his 36 games played at catcher, Sanchez gunned down 41 percent (13-for-19) of baserunners attempting to steal off him which was the seventh-best rate among major league catchers with at least 300 innings played at the position.
Among those 13 baserunners thrown out, the greatest came during the seventh inning of the final game of the regular season, when he threw out Drew Stubbs of the Baltimore Orioles. Sanchez followed a pop time 1.91 seconds with an 88.9 mph throw to hand Stubbs his only caught stealing of the year and catch his second baserunner of the inning.
According to MLB.com’s Statcast, that throw was the hardest throw on a caught stealing and the third-hardest throw on any steal attempt, sitting behind Christian Bethancourt‘s 89.3 mph throw and Drew Butera‘s 89.0 mph throw.
Among the list of hardest throws on steal attempts in 2016, New York’s young phenom had four of the top 10, seven of the top 15 and eight of the top 20, also according to Statcast.
As he and his Yankees prepare for another season, Sanchez hasn’t missed a step in delivering power from both sides of the plate.
In his six spring training games thus far, he owns a .353/.389/.765 slash line with a 1.154 OPS and two home runs. He has also thrown out five of the seven baserunners (71.4 percent) that have attempted to steal on him. His most impressive showcase came during Saturday’s 11-1 win over the Detroit Tigers, when he homered and later nailed the speedy Anthony Gose attempting to steal second from his knees.
“I’m not sure I can think of anyone else that makes that throw,’’ manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s probably the only shot he has at getting him.’’
What added on to the impressiveness of that throw — other than the fact that it was made from his knees — was that Dellin Betances was on the mound. Last season, baserunners were a perfect 21-for-21 on steal attempts off the All-Star setup man, who is notorious for being slow to home plate.
“I was in awe, to be honest with you,” Betances said, who worked all offseason working on a slide step and holding runners on. “I feel good throwing (over). It keeps them honest and I let Gary handle the rest.’’
Although it was his bat that made him the most talked-about rookie in baseball last season, if Gary Sanchez is going to grow into the superstar the Yankees are counting on him to become, mastery at the plate won’t be enough by itself. And as the “don’t run on Sanchez” PSA is making its way around the league, his arm is more than combat-ready as he learns the ins-and-outs of being more than a one-dimensional player.