Even in an age when there are more home runs than ever, speed is of the utmost importance in baseball. First off, as you might have heard, it never slumps. But it is also useful everywhere -- whether in the field, at the plate or on the basepaths, it’s an ability that always comes in handy.
So today we take a look at the fastest player on every team. Some of this will come from sprint speed from Statcast, some will be about defensive range (Outs Above Average), some will just be plain old basestealing and triples. But these are, as far as I can tell, the fastest guys each team has to offer.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Anthony Alford, OF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 29.4 ft/sec (96th percentile)
The former collegiate defensive back for Mississippi has struggled with injuries, but he’s still a top prospect (Toronto's No. 21 prospect per MLB Pipeline), and if you can cover SEC wide receivers, you can probably be a nuisance on the basepaths.
Orioles: Richie Martin, SS
Key stat: Sprint speed – 29.4 ft/sec (96th percentile)
There may be some issues with the bat, but Martin is lighting fast. He stole 10 bases last year, and was only caught once.
Rays: Kevin Kiermaier, CF
Key stat: +17 outfield OAA in 2019 (second in MLB)
He’ll turn 30 in April, but the defensive whiz hasn’t lost a step. He remains one of the most underrated weapons in the game.
Red Sox: Kevin Pillar, CF
Key stat: 77 percent success rate on steal attempts since 2015 (82 steals in 106 attempts)
The Red Sox are not known for their speed, so the newly acquired Pillar at least helps in that regard.
Yankees: Brett Gardner, OF
Key stat: 81 percent career success rate on steal attempts (267 steals in 328 attempts)
Gardner is going to be 55 years old someday, and he’s still going to be faster than you, me and everyone we know.
Indians: Oscar Mercado, CF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 29.5 ft/sec (96th percentile)
Mercado was a lifesaver for the Indians in several ways last year, and they’re relying on him even more in 2020.
Royals: Adalberto Mondesi, SS
Key stat: Led MLB with 10 triples in 2019
Mondesi may have been born three decades too late -- he’d have been absolutely perfect during the 1980s in just about every possibly way.
Tigers: Niko Goodrum, INF/OF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 29.0 ft/sec (90th percentile)
There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about in Detroit for a while, but Goodrum has become a fan favorite for all the right reasons.
Twins: Byron Buxton, CF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 30.3 ft/sec (third in MLB)
His nagging injuries sometimes make me wonder if he is too fast for his own body to contain him.
White Sox: Adam Engel, CF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 30.0 ft/sec (eighth in MLB)
He may end up as part of a platoon for the White Sox this year, but he’s a weapon that can be deployed in just about any fashion for a team with real desire to make a big step forward this year.
Angels: Mike Trout, CF
Key stat: 85 percent career success rate on steal attempts (200 steals in 236 attempts)
Yep, still the fastest guy on his team too.
Astros: Myles Straw, OF
Key stat: Stole eight bases in nine attempts over 56 games as a rookie in 2019
He stole 70 bases in the Minors just two years ago, though it’s fair to say he’ll never get a chance to swipe that many in the bigs.
Athletics: Ramón Laureano, CF
Key stat: 87 percent success rate on steal attempts (20 steals in 23 attempts) in 171 career games
There’s nothing he can’t do. He’s one of the few guys he can’t throw out with his own arm.
Mariners: Mallex Smith, CF
Key stat: +10 outfield OAA in 2019 (eighth in MLB)
Another throwback player, but one who has shown a little more oomph with the bat of late.
Rangers: Nick Solak, INF
Key stat: 79 percent success rate on steal attempts over four Minor League seasons (48 steals in 61 attempts)
An exciting young player who, if he can emerge, could make a sizable difference for the Rangers this year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr., LF
Key stat: Led National League with 37 steals in 2019
He’s too valuable to risk his health by letting him try to steal 50 bases … but he could totally do it.
Marlins: Magneuris Sierra, OF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 29.8 ft/sec (98th percentile)
The other trade chip in the Marcell Ozuna trade hasn’t hit much yet, but he can fly.
Mets: Amed Rosario, SS
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 29.2 ft/sec (94th percentile)
He’s not an All-Star yet, but in 2019, he at last began to look like the player the Mets have been excited about.
Nationals: Trea Turner, SS
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 30.4 ft/sec (second in MLB)
The talent can still blow you away, and he is still just 26.
Phillies: Roman Quinn, CF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 30.1 ft/sec (fifth in MLB)
He’s not ready to take on the center field job just yet, but if he can figure some other stuff out, he could solve one of the Phillies’ bigger holes.
Brewers: Christian Yelich, RF
Key stat: 52 for 58 (90 percent) in steal attempts from 2018-19
The true superstars are the ones who can give you everything, all the time.
Cardinals: Harrison Bader, CF
Key stat: +13 outfield OAA in 2019 (fourth in MLB)
If he can just hit a little, his outfield defense is so incredible that the Cardinals would happily put him in the lineup every day.
Cubs: Javier Báez, SS
Key stat: 71 percent career success rate on steal attempts (60 steals in 85 attempts)
Báez remains an athletic freak, and one who is vital for a Cubs team that especially needs him to have a huge season this year.
Pirates: Cole Tucker, SS
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 28.8 ft/sec (88th percentile)
His name sounds like a NASCAR driver, and he zooms around the bases accordingly.
Reds: Nick Senzel, CF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 29.4 ft/sec (95th percentile)
They still haven’t entirely figured out where he’s playing, but he’ll make a difference wherever it is.
D-backs: Tim Locastro, LF
Key stat: 22 for 22 in career steal attempts (112 games)
According to Statcast, he was the fastest player in baseball in 2020.
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, OF
Key stat: +6 outfield OAA (fifth among MLB right fielders)
He and Gavin Lux are around the same speed -- perhaps they can have a Dodgers Rookie of the Year 100-yard dash at some point in the next couple of years.
Giants: Billy Hamilton, CF
Key stat: 299 career steals (fourth among active players)
This is where Billy Hamilton ended up, in case you missed that this offseason.
Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 29.3 ft/sec (94th percentile)
He’s such an electric talent that he almost seems to vibrate while out on the field.
Rockies: Garret Hampson, INF/OF
Key stat: Sprint speed -- 30.1 ft/sec (fourth in MLB)
Quietly one of the fastest players in baseball, he’s finding opportunities in Colorado thanks to his versatility.