From the same people who brought you exit velocity and launch angle, let us be the first to introduce you to Sprint Speed.
MLB.com Statcast, which is sending out numbers all over the Internet to quantify baseball’s current home run explosion, also has a foot speed metric that is getting very little attention. But it still is fun to look at and ponder, even if it’s not as sexy as exit velo, which is all the kids can Snapchat about these days.
Sprint Speed is pretty much what it sounds like. From the website baseballsavant.mlb.com, which has a daily sortable and searchable leader board for Sprint Speed:
“Sprint Speed is defined as ‘feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window.’ The major-league average on a ‘max effort’ play is 27 feet per second, and the max effort range is roughly from 23 (poor) to 30 (elite). A player must have at least 10 max effort runs to qualify.”
We know what you’re asking: Who cares? No, hopefully, that’s not what you’re asking. The first question is who are the fastest and slowest players in baseball by this metric. (All stats below are through Friday.)
Billy Hamilton of the Reds is fastest at 30.1 feet per second. Albert Pujols of the Angels is slowest at 23.3 (but given that he’s going to the Hall of Fame, he probably would be OK if he knew).
Hamilton is second in baseball in steals with 33 and is soon to be first because the player in front of him, Washington’s Trea Turner, just broke his wrist and won’t be adding to his total of 35 for a long while.
Rounding out the Sprint Speed top five: Byron Buxton (Twins) at 29.9; Bradley Zimmer (Indians) and Raimel Tapia (Rockies) at 29.8, and Franchy Cordero (Padres) at 29.6.
The four players who are above Pujols are all catchers or former catchers: Yasmani Grandal (Dodgers) at 24.3; Jett Bandy (Brewers) and Victor Martinez (Tigers) at 24.2; and Brian McCann (Astros) at 23.4. That’s without catcher’s gear.
Among the local teams, the fastest sprinter is Brett Gardner of the Yankees at 28.7. The Yankees’ leader board also includes Jacoby Ellsbury (28.2) and Didi Gregorius (28.0). Rookie of the Year and AL MVP candidate Aaron Judge is tied with Ronald Torreyes for fifth at 27.7, in case you were wondering.
The slowest Yankees are catcher Austin Romine and DH/first baseman Matt Holliday (26.1 each) and third baseman Chase Headley (25.9). Headley has made up for his lack of speed, however, with six stolen bases in eight attempts.
The fastest Mets player, according to Sprint Speed, is not Jose Reyes. It’s the injured Juan Lagares at 28.2. Reyes, who once stole 78 bases in a season, is tied with Michael Conforto at 27.7. But Reyes is 34 years old.
The slowest Mets who qualify for the leader board are T.J. Rivera (25.8), Wilmer Flores (25.7) and Lucas Duda (25.4). Backup catcher Rene Rivera probably out-turtles them all, but he doesn’t have the required “max effort” runs to make the leader board.
Speaking of catchers, Mets backstop Travis d’Arnaud was proud to learn he is fourth on the team at 27.1, one-tenth of a foot per second above the major-league average.
D’Arnaud has one career stolen base and said that was on a missed sign on what he thought was a hit-and-run. But d’Arnaud said he actually works in the offseason on trying to improve his first-step quickness so he can beat out an infield roller or score from first on a double.
D’Arnaud was curious about two things. The first was where he ranks among MLB catchers. Fifth, he was told. He was pleased.
D’Arnaud’s other question about Sprint Speed?
“Where does Usain Bolt rank?”
NEW YORK’S FASTEST
Most ground covered, in feet per second, among New York players, according to Statcast:
1. Brett Gardner, NYY 28.7
2. Jacoby Ellsbury, NYY 28.2
Juan Lagares, NYM 28.2
Didi Gregorius, NYY 28.2
5. Aaron Hicks, NYY 28.0
6. Jose Reyes, NYM 27.7
Michael Conforto, NYM 27.7
Ronald Torreyes, NYY 27.7
Aaron Judge, NYY 27.7