On Tuesday, MLB released a new metric called Sprint Speed. The metric, which is part of the Statcast collection of numbers, is defined as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window.”
The range is typically 23 ft/sec on the poor side and 30 ft/sec on the strong side. 27 ft/sec is about average.
Let’s look at where the Braves sit.
Tyler Flowers comes in at about 25.8. Now, that sounds below average, but you have to remember that we’re talking about catchers here. Only ten catchers were at 26.5 ft/sec or better. For a little more perspective, former Braves catcher Evan Gattis came in a bit faster at 26.2 ft/sec, which is why he’s a former outfielder, right? (sarcasm) The last qualified catcher was Brian McCann. 23.4. Only Albert Pujols was slower. By the way, I might pay to see them in a 40-yard dash.
Freddie Freeman is an agile first baseman. He ranked 26.6 ft/sec, which is about league average and just outside the Top 10 for first basemen. Matt Adams wasn’t far behind, though, coming in at 26.2 ft/sec. Will Myers led this lot with a 28.5 ft/sec metric.
Brandon Phillips is one of the slowest second basemen in baseball. In fact, he mimicked Freeman with a 26.6 ft/sec. To be fair, let’s not make more of this stat than it is. It’s a measure of speed and that’s it. It’s not a measure of defense or base stealing. Both skills can be improved with speed or hurt by a lack of, but speed is just one of the many variables that go into playing defense or stealing a base. Only four 2B rated lower than Phillips. Jace Peterson was around the average for this position at 27.2 ft/sec. Guys with former Braves ties like Jose Peraza (28.3 ft/sec) and Brandon Drury (27.3 ft/sec) also made the leaderboard.
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At 28.2 ft/sec, Dansby Swanson ranked sixth among shortstops. Swanson’s speed is not a huge part of his game, but when he turns it on, he can make up some ground in a hurry. Former Braves like Nick Ahmed (28.1 ft/sec), Andrelton Simmons (27.9 ft/sec), and Elvis Andrus (27.6 ft/sec) also made the list.
One thing is for sure. Freddie Freeman is just about as fast as Rio Ruiz, who came in at 26.7 ft/sec, and Adonis Garcia (26.6 ft/sec). All three are significantly slower than Johan Camargo, who matched fellow third baseman Jose Reyes with a 27.6 ft/sec. We didn’t have the stat when Reyes was at his quickest, though. It was enough for Camargo to land in the Top 10.
Matt Kemp is not the fleetest of foot. That’s a bit of an understatement. Again, this is just speed, but Matt Kemp ranks dead last among LF with a 25.7 ft/sec. To put that into perspective, Kyle Schwarber is faster at 26 ft/sec. Melky Cabrera is faster at 26.0. I mentioned Gattis and he’s leaving Kemp in the dust with a 26.2 ft/sec sprint speed. Ryan Klesko is warming up to make Kemp look dumb. Speed is one of many skills that make up a player, but Kemp might want to look into Forrest Gump’s magic shoes. His mom told him they’ll take him anywhere! Then again, after last night’s catch, maybe he already did.
Ender Inciarte is an elite center fielder, but he doesn’t have elite center field speed. In fact, he’s near the bottom with a 27.5 ft/sec, ninth worst. And that speaks to the limitations of this stat. While Inciarte is not Mallex Smith fast (29.2 ft/sec), it doesn’t affect his ability to play his position as well as anyone in the game. It does mean that Inciarte probably won’t be stealing thirty bases any time soon, however.
You do have to give Inciarte a lot of credit because he’s flanked by two of the slowest corner outfielders in baseball. Nick Markakis ranked as the sixth slowest right fielder with a 26.4 ft/sec rating. It’s about a full one sec/ft slower than Jason Heyward, the man he replaced. Markakis is better at playing right field than Kemp is at playing left field so there’s that. All told, the Braves have possibly the slowest starting outfield in baseball.
What do you think about this new stat? Does it tell you anything new and were you surprised by the metric’s findings?