Just how different is the speedster Dee Gordon from the home run monster Giancarlo Stanton?
The Marlins are a remarkably unique team. Beyond playing in a stadium that features an honest-to-goodness modernist home-run sculpture in left field and calling Barry Bonds their hitting coach, the team also has Jose Fernandez fronting the rotation, with Carter Capps leaping out of the bullpen. And leading the offense, there are two of the most opposite players possible in second baseman Dee Gordon, who recently signed a five-year, $50 million extension to keep him in Florida, and Giancarlo Stanton, a man known as Bigfoot who signed a $325 million extension last winter.
If they were in a sitcom, they'd be the Odd Couple, with Stanton taking enormous bites out of Kit Kat bars that Gordon specifically bought for that house party they were throwing.
If they were a movie, they'd be "Junior," with Gordon replacing Danny DeVito and Stanton taking on Arnold Schwarzenegger to have a horrific science-baby.
That they're different is obvious. But just how different are they?
Gordon has hit just eight home runs in nearly 2,000 career plate appearances. Meanwhile, Stanton averages eight home runs every 131 plate appearances. Naturally, that's not just luck.
With the aid of Statcast™, we know that Stanton had the highest average launch speed at 99.11 mph, the highest average generated velocity at 9.98 mph (nearly doubling second-place Randal Grichuk), and three of the 10 longest home runs in 2015 despite missing almost 100 games.
Meanwhile, Gordon's average batted-ball speed was over 14 mph slower than Stanton's and he actually had a negative exit velocity. This isn't a bad thing -- after all, with his speed, he wants the ball to slowly roll on the ground -- but it is interesting to know. Meanwhile, his longest home run was 396.9 feet -- shorter than all but six of Stanton's 27 home runs in 2015.
Of course, those are all just meaningless, stupid numbers. You want to see them in action. Well, on the home runs below, Gordon pulled it to right and it barely eclipsed the fence, landing 367.9 feet away.
Stanton's was 454.59 feet, landing in Citi Field's second deck.
While Gordon is known for his winged feet of Mercury, having led the league in stolen bases for the past two seasons, Stanton is not the traditional lumbering monster that club homers by the dozen. Sadly, because I wasn't allowed to show up at their houses, kidnap them and force them to race, I had to get a little more creative.
Here are the two hitting infield singles to the second baseman last year. While Gordon wins the race, it's not the blowout you're expecting, especially as he's coming out of the left-handed box, shortening his run by a few important feet.
Thanks again to Statcast™, we know just what the difference was, Gordon making it to first in 3.99 seconds compared to Stanton's 4.4. Gordon had the edge in maximum speed, but it was closer than it may appear: Gordon topping out at 21.48 mph compared to Stanton's 20.23.
But the biggest difference is largely how fast they were able to accelerate. Gordon needed only 3.59 seconds to get up to top speed, while Stanton needed 4.15. And that .45 difference: It's exactly the difference between their times to first.
So, you've seen Stanton and Gordon essentially race each other to the bag. But what about while they're in the field? Obviously they have different jobs -- Stanton needing to be able to chase down fly balls to the gap, while Gordon needs explosive quickness to close down grounders up the middle. But did Galileo give up when he saw the sun and was like, "Oh man, that's really far away. Well, guess I'll go plant some turnips." No, he didn't give up, and neither do we.
Here we see Gordon run to the hole to make a diving stop and throw to first base:
While here, Stanton going deep to make a diving grab. Naturally, both got the out at first base.
Obviously, there are some giant differences here, as Stanton actually sprinted at a higher top speed -- 18.95 mph to Gordon's 14.31 -- thanks to the space he had to run, while Gordon needed only a few steps.
And this may explain why Gordon is in the infield. It took him just .17 seconds after the ball was hit to make his first move, while Stanton needed .24. We're now talking in the mere fractions of a second, but it's those differences that could have been the difference between Gordon being able to make the play and the ball skipping into the outfield for a single.
What was the point of all of this? Anyone with eyes could tell you that these two were different, but now you know just how different. Sure, in the world of Major League Baseball, they may be nothing alike, but compared to schmoes sitting at home, well, they're almost the same player.