NEW YORK — Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton was examined by a specialist on Monday, and later in the day he did some light running and agility drills before his team took batting practice at Citi Field.
We knew when Sanchez was coming up that he had a strong throwing arm; after all, just about every scouting report mentioned it. MLBPipeline.com, for example, noted that he had “two standout tools: huge raw power and an exceptionally strong arm.” Now that we’ve had a few weeks of Sanchez in the big leagues and in front of the Statcast? tracking cameras, we can confirm that, and then some.
Consider this: Through Sunday, we’ve tracked 1,128 individual catcher throws to second base on steal attempts. Despite starting only 15 games at catcher (he’s been the designated hitter a few times so far), Sanchez is tied for the third-strongest throw by anyone this year — as well as owning three of the top seven, and five of the top 10.
That’s impressive company, or at least it ought to be. Remember, Bethancourt’s arm is so well-respected that in addition to his catching duties, the Padres have used him both as a pitcher and a corner outfielder this year. Put another way, the 10 throws listed there make up less than the top one percent of the best throws by all catchers this year, and Sanchez alone has half of them in just a few weeks of play. Unsurprisingly, of the 70 catchers with at least five attempts to stop stolen bases at second, Sanchez’s average arm strength of 87.4 mph is the best, topping Bethancourt’s 86.5 mph and Drew Butera’s 84.9 mph.
So far, Sanchez has thrown out six of the nine baserunners who have attempted to steal against him; for comparison, Colorado’s Nick Hundley has also thrown out six, but of 53. In an obviously small sample size, that 67 percent success rate is the best of the 82 catchers with at least five total stolen-base attempts against, at all bases.
Interestingly enough, that strong arm helps to mask a roughly average or ever-so-slightly below exchange time, which is to say that part of what makes a catcher successful is how quickly he can get the throw out of his hands after he receives the pitch. Going back to that same list of 70 catchers with five attempts at second base, Sanchez’s exchange time of .78 seconds is tied for 54th, slightly below the Major League average this year of .74 seconds. (The best is David Ross, at .64 seconds, and it progresses up in fractions until you get to Devin Mesoraco, who was rarely healthy this year and had a mark of .86 seconds.)