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Fun with Statcast’s Sprint Speed and the Twins

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We all know Byron Buxton is one of the fastest players in the major leagues, but do you know how the rest of the Twins stack up?

Minnesota Twins v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Byron Buxton is crazy fast. Okay, now that we got that out of the way, we can proceed. We’ve already talked about Buxton and how he was the second-fastest player in all the major leagues, but it recently was announced that he had caught up to fellow center fielder Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds.

(source: Baseball Savant)

A player’s “sprint speed” is measured as the player’s fastest one-second window while running, and to be eligible, the player must have tallied at least 10 max-effort sprints throughout the season. As we can see, Buxton and Hamilton are now tied at 30.1 ft/sec, or about 20.5 MPH.

In the article, myjah also pointed out that Max Kepler ranked amongst the fastest outfielders in the game. Unfortunately, he’s slipped a few spots, partially due to himself getting slower but also because some other speedsters have now qualified for the leaderboard, but he still remains solidly above the major league average of 27 ft/sec.

That got me to start playing around with the data (slash making some updates to the already over-the-top work I’ve put into my copy of MLB ‘14: The Show), and I started wondering if we would be capable of ordering the Twins position players from fastest to slowest.

You know that Buxton is at the top and that Kepler is up there as well. But could you correctly identify the remaining Twins? Some players are not surprising. Others certainly shocked me. I just thought this would be a fun exercise just to see which players live up to our baserunning expectations and which do not, either positively or negatively.

I will give you the names and the speeds. It’s up to you to order them in the correct spots. I’ll hide the correct answers in the first comment, or you can click on this to check, but no cheating!

Players

Ehire Adrianza

Byron Buxton

Jason Castro

Brian Dozier

Eduardo Escobar

Chris Gimenez (2016 speed, hasn’t qualified for 2017 yet)

Robbie Grossman

Max Kepler

Joe Mauer

Jorge Polanco

Eddie Rosario

Miguel Sano

Kennys Vargas

Rank
  1. Byron Buxton (duh), 30.1 ft/sec
  2. 28.2 ft/sec
  3. 28.1 ft/sec
  4. 28.1 ft/sec
  5. 28.0 ft/sec
  6. 27.9 ft/sec
  7. 27.6 ft/sec
  8. 27.0 ft/sec
  9. 26.7 ft/sec
  10. 26.4 ft/sec
  11. 26.3 ft/sec
  12. 26.0 ft/sec
  13. 25.4 ft/sec

I made some observations too while I was doing this, (which you may also consider “hints”), but to hide any potential spoilers, I’m going to make some buffer space with the help of our good friend, former Twins manager Tom Kelly.

Observations/Hints
  1. Miguel Sano and especially Kennys Vargas are faster than I thought.
  2. Though Ehire Adrianza rates so poorly this year, it should be noted that he was measured at 27.3 ft/sec in 2015 (didn’t qualify for 2016) and thus this year’s data might not be accurate... or maybe he’s just jogging everywhere. Stupid lazy Mau - sorry, it’s become a habit.
  3. Adrianza and Chris Gimenez (using his 2016 data) are the only two Twins that are below average compared to their peers at the same position. (Use this link to see how everyone compares at their position.) Yes, Sano and Vargas are faster than the average third baseman and DH, respectively.
  4. Robbie Grossman may be above-average overall, but it’s a shame that his poor reads have contributed to him being a below-average defensive outfielder.
  5. It would be interesting to see where Zack Granite would rate here. Based off what we’ve heard, I bet he’d fit in at #2, probably somewhere between 29 and 30 ft/sec.
  6. All hail our sprint lord and speed savior Byron Buxton.