An intentional walk is one of the most boring plays in baseball. So much so that the act of throwing four pitches a mile away from the strike zone has been abolished under the Rob Manfred regime, which is pushing hard to improve pace of play and thus rid Major League Baseball of the intentional walk rule.
Back in 2006, when MLB pitchers still had to lob all four pitches outside the zone rather than a manager simply signaling the batter to first, Florida Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera decided to take matters into his own hands and deny the Baltimore Orioles the opportunity to put him on first base intentionally.
It isn’t every day you see someone get a hit on a pitch meant for the other batter’s box.
Miguel Cabrera’s Intentional Walk Single
Todd Williams was on the mound for the Orioles on June 22, 2006. Marlins star Hanley Ramirez reached second base, bringing Miggy up to the plate. A threat to hit a home run during any at-bat, the All-Star was set to be intentionally walked in order to set up a double play.
Rather than sit idly and watch four pitches go by, Miggy decided to step forward and swing at one, recording a base hit and an RBI single into center field while completely stunning the Orioles defense. Unsurprisingly, the Marlins dugout was fired up after the play. Ramirez managed to score from second base to secure the extra-inning victory, courtesy of an Orioles bullpen blowup from the likes of Williams, LaTroy Hawkins and Chris Ray.
Cabrera isn’t the only player to turn the tides on an intentional walk. Detroit Tigers legend Ty Cobb once hit a two-run triple during an IBB attempt in 1907. In 1908, the Chicago White Sox walked off the Philadelphia Phillies after Freddy Parent hit the errant pitch into play.
More recently in 2016, New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly on an intentional walk attempt against the Tampa Bay Rays.
With the recent intentional walk rule change in 2017, it appears no one will ever have a chance to do this again. According to SABR.org, only five players have ever gotten a hit on one of these pitches.
Cabrera’s career has featured a plethora of incredible highlights, including a World Series title, but this individual moment may be one of his most memorable. As he closes in on 500 career home runs, let’s remember the time he defied baseball rules with one swing.