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Padres roll out Majors' speediest outfield

Margot, Cordero, Jankowski start together in opener vs. Giants
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN FRANCISCO -- Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero and Travis Jankowski are all center fielders. On top of that, they're all good defensive center fielders with elite range and elite speed.

On Monday night, in one of the Majors' most spacious outfields, all three were in the Padres' starting lineup. Jankowski played right and Cordero played left as the Padres opened a three-game series against the Giants. Along with Margot, they combined to make up one of the speediest outfields in the sport's history.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Manuel Margot, Franchy Cordero and Travis Jankowski are all center fielders. On top of that, they're all good defensive center fielders with elite range and elite speed.

On Monday night, in one of the Majors' most spacious outfields, all three were in the Padres' starting lineup. Jankowski played right and Cordero played left as the Padres opened a three-game series against the Giants. Along with Margot, they combined to make up one of the speediest outfields in the sport's history.

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"It's pretty exciting to know we can be wrong on a scouting report, and they can make up the ground; they can make the scouting report or me, the positioner, look really good," said Padres outfield coach Skip Schumaker. "I haven't ever seen an outfield with this speed."

Consider sprint speed, a Statcast™ metric designed to capture a player's top speed in his fastest one-second window during an all-out sprint -- whether on the bases or in the field.

Only 17 players have recorded an average sprint speed of 29.3 feet per second or better this year. Cordero (29.4) and Margot (29.3) are among them. Jankowski was recalled before Sunday's game and is making his first start, but in 2016, the last time he qualified, he posted a 29.6 mark.

Video: SD@MIL: Cordero runs 97 feet to make four-star catch

Should Jankowski remain constant, no other outfield in baseball boasts three players with so much speed. The Indians -- Bradley Zimmer and Rajai Davis -- have two at 29.3. But no team even has three outfielders averaging 28.3 ft/sec -- a full second slower than Margot's average. (The Marlins and White Sox are closest, with three players recording minimum sprint speeds of 28.2 ft/sec.)

All three Padres can tap the afterburners, too. Only the most elite speedsters have cracked 30 ft/sec at any point. The three San Diego outfielders have all done so on various occasions.

Margot was asked to rank the speed of the three starting outfielders Monday. Perhaps it was modesty (or maybe he's been checking the Statcast™ leaderboards), but he placed himself third, with Jankowski at No. 1.

"We've got a group of superstars out there," Margot said. "It's fun to play with these guys."

Said manager Andy Green: "That's a good group to be the bronze medalist in."

So what does all of that speed mean for the Padres' outfield? It's obviously a boon to their team defense. But only Jankowski has reached the full defensive potential that his speed would suggest.

Video: SD@ATL: Jankowski makes a running catch near the wall

Margot has made significant strides, but has work to do on balls at the wall and when he charges to make a throw. Cordero can improve in a handful of areas, most notably with his first step.

Still, given the speed, they're almost certain to have the gaps covered like no other outfield in baseball. That, of course, puts communication at a premium.

"Before each play, I'm looking where they are, so I understand how much distance they can cover, where I am in relation to where they are, what the gaps are looking like," Margot said. "I know the gaps are going to be covered."

With Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe on the disabled list, the trio of Jankowski, Margot and Cordero will start together about half the time. (Jose Pirela is expected to shift between second and left).

Even though it's the first time they've graced the same lineup in the Majors, they have plenty of experience together.

"They have a really good feel for each other, whether it's the Minors, up and down [in the Majors] or Spring Training," Schumaker said. "That familiarity is going to help."

The speed will, too.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Franchy Cordero, Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot