All offseason long, we've been eagerly looking forward to the second year of Statcast™ in order to validate what we learned from the first year and see what sort of exciting applications we can put the data towards in year two. But let's be honest: We mostly want to see
All offseason long, we've been eagerly looking forward to the second year of Statcast™ in order to validate what we learned from the first year and see what sort of exciting applications we can put the data towards in year two. But let's be honest: We mostly want to see records fall. We want to see someone hit harder than Giancarlo Stanton, and throw harder than Aroldis Chapman, if that's even possible.
Turns out, we did see a Statcast™ record fall on Sunday, even if it wasn't immediately as obvious as someone hitting a ball harder than Stanton does or longer than Kris Bryant did. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, wisely attempting to lay down a bunt to beat the shift in the sixth inning, made it from home to first in 3.92 seconds -- not just the fastest home-to-first time of any first baseman on record, but also the first time a first baseman has been tracked below 4.1 seconds going back to the start of the 2015 season. Though he'd later be forced out at second, his hustle (reaching a top speed of 21.4 mph on the bunt single) set the table for a three-run Royals inning.
While we grant that as a lefty hitter laying down a bunt, Hosmer had a bit of an advantage on his side, this actually lines up well with what we learned about home-to-first speed from 2015. Last year, we measured 397 players who had at least three qualified "competitive plays," which we defined as being plays at or above a hitter's 90th percentile speed, in order to weed out the lazy jogs on obvious outs.
Thirty-eight first basemen made the cut -- Hosmer tops among them.
2015 first basemen: Average home-to-first times on "competitive plays" (minimum three qualified plays)
1. Hosmer, 4.32 seconds
- Brandon Belt, 4.36 seconds
- Brandon Moss, 4.42 seconds
- Ben Paulsen, 4.41 seconds
- Eric Campbell, 4.42 seconds
The sixth name on that list would have been Paul Goldschmidt, just a fraction of a second behind Campbell, and that makes sense, because since 2011, Goldschmidt (67) and Hosmer (49) are the only two first basemen with more than 33 stolen bases. But while Goldschmidt manages that by being a savvy baserunner who takes the largest Statcast-measured leads in baseball, Hosmer does it with much better-than-expected speed, at least for his position.
Gif: Eric Hosmer ties game in World Series game 5
It's not like we haven't seen this in action, anyway. Hosmer went first-to-third on a single 12 times in 2015, the same number as Kevin Kiermaier, Ben Revere and A.J. Pollock -- all noted for their speed -- and more than Dee Gordon or Mookie Betts. When Hosmer had the opportunity to take an extra base, he did so 52 percent of the time, more than Gordon (48 percent) or Goldschmidt (44 percent), and only three others in baseball scored from first on a double more often than his 10. The Royals are known to be aggressive on the bases, and their first baseman hasn't acted like he wants to be left out.
Oh, and there was the time that Hosmer tied up Game 5 of the World Series with two outs in the ninth inning with his mad dash home (top speed of 19.7 mph) on a grounder to third base, which is a play you might remember a little about. At the time, the prevailing opinion was that he probably took too much of a risk in going, and that only a poor throw from Mets first baseman Lucas Duda saved him from a game-ending out.
Perhaps that's true, and that a good throw would have nailed Hosmer. Then again, he doesn't run like a normal first baseman, and he doesn't act like one on the bases. Now, Hosmer has something he'll surely value as much as the World Series ring he'll receive with the rest of his teammates: A Statcast™ baserunning record.
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs.