Speed has always been a coveted asset in Kansas City, from the days of Willie Wilson to Jarrod Dyson. Now, we have even greater ways of measuring speed thanks to Statcast data made available on Baseball Savant. Statcast introduced "Sprint Speed" this week, defined as "feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window." Only players with at least ten "maximum effort runs tracked" were included. "Maximum effort runs" exclude plays where the player may only half-try to jog to first on a routine grounder. Mike Petriello of MLB.com explains a bit more:
To account for that, we took all batted balls (excluding over-the-fence home runs), and looked at plays where a runner or hitter attempted to advance two or more bases (excluding runners who started on second base and the batted ball was an extra-base hit, as they can often jog home). Of the remaining runs, we'll sort them from slowest to fastest, and take the average of the fastest half. If that sounds complicated, it needs to be, but the results are extremely satisfying.
Basically, the metric measures how fast players are when running at maximum velocity when running full out. It turns out the average Major Leaguer can cover 27 feet per second when running at a full sprint. It is not surprising that Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton is the fastest man in the league by this metric with 30.1 feet per second. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is second, but what is surprising is that Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer is third, besting players like Dee Gordon, Mallex Smith, and Jarrod Dyson.
Lorenzo Cain comes in tied for eighth in baseball at 29.2 feet per second, equaling Dyson, and leading the Royals in speed. Whit Merrifield is not far behind,and while Alcides Escobar's stolen base total is way down, his Sprint Speed is still strong at 28.2 feet-per-second. Mike Moustakas is the slowest Royals player, although nowhere near the bottom of the league like former Royals DH Kendrys Morales. The slowest runner in the league is Angels slugger Albert Pujols at 23.3 feet-per-second.
— Jesse Newell (@jessenewell) June 27, 2017
Here are the just-released baserunning sprint speeds of each Royals starter. Whit/Cain look great, while Moose ... not so much. pic.twitter.com/J4TXzAq1eX
The data is interesting, although much of it is not too surprising. Centerfielders are the fastest players in the game, catchers and first basemen the slowest. But it provides another way to quantify and evaluate players, and for the Royals, this could be very important as they continue to look for speedster to roam around spacious Kauffman Stadium and cause havoc on the bases.