Not just in baseball, but across all sports, it’s rare for the fastest people to also be the strongest. After all, you don’t typically see an Olympic 100-meter sprinter double up as a professional Sumo wrestler in his or her down time. But the world’s best athletes find ways to combine skills that are often perceived as unconventional, and MLB is no exception. Below, we break down the top power-speed combinations in the Majors this season.
How do we do so? To start, we’ll use two categories of Statcast data: barrel rate and average sprint speed. Barrels are the most dangerous type of contact in baseball -- a more formal definition can be seen on MLB’s glossary here -- but to summarize, they are batted balls with the optimal combination of exit velocity and launch angle. As such, a player’s barrel rate is his percentage of batted balls that are considered barrels. A player’s sprint speed on any individual play is his feet per second across his fastest one-second window on that play, and only a player’s performance on “competitive runs” is considered for his overall average sprint speed -- see this link for more detail on how that average is calculated.
But in addition to the Statcast metrics, we also consider some of the old-school numbers: home runs and stolen bases. Given that there are still only four members of the all-time “40-40 club,” it’s difficult to rack up elite numbers in both of these statistics. And that remains true despite the 2023 rule changes that have led to an increase in stolen bases, meaning that players should be appropriately credited when they are able put up big numbers in both stats.
Without further ado, below are our top 10 power-speed threats of the 2023 season to this point. All stats below are entering Monday's games.
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves
Notable stats: 25 home runs, 53 steals, 88th percentile barrel rate
The overwhelming NL MVP favorite leads MLB in a litany of offensive stats, so it’s no surprise that this list is one of them. He leads all MLB hitters (min. 300 PA) in both expected batting average and expected wOBA, via Statcast, while also having the most offensive WAR in the Majors, via Baseball Reference. But his combination of homers and steals specifically puts him in position to make history. Beyond having a realistic chance to join the aforementioned 40-40 club, he also already has become the first player to have 20 HR and 50 SB before August. And he’s on pace for 37 homers and 79 steals this season -- which would be the first “30-60” season in MLB history.
2. Corbin Carroll, OF, D-backs
Notable stats: 21 home runs, 36 steals, 99th percentile sprint speed
If Acuña wasn’t on such a preposterous HR-SB pace, we’d likely be talking even more about Arizona’s rookie sensation than we already are. Carroll himself is in position to make some history, on pace for 30 homers and 52 steals this season. Not only would he join Mike Trout (2012) as the only rookies ever to go 30-30, but he’d also join Eric Davis (1987) and Barry Bonds (1990) as the only players of any experience level to go 30-50 … a list that Acuña is five homers away from joining as well. Led by Carroll’s elite speed -- which ranks behind only Bobby Witt Jr. and Trea Turner among qualified hitters -- Arizona has become among the most exciting young teams in the sport.
3. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Royals
Notable stats: 20 home runs, 32 steals, 100th percentile sprint speed
Witt’s average sprint speed of 30.3 feet/second leads MLB’s 266 qualified hitters, but you already knew that the Royals’ second-year shortstop was fast. What you might not have known was how well-rounded the other tools of his game are. Witt has an outside chance to join the aforementioned 30-50 club, but even if he doesn’t do so, he already has become the first player ever to have at least 20 HR and 30 SB in each of his first two seasons. His hitting has improved vastly from Year 1 to Year 2, with a barrel rate that has jumped from 8.7% to 11.8%, making him a core pillar for a young Kansas City squad.
4. Jose Siri, OF, Rays
Notable stats: 92nd percentile barrel rate, 97th percentile sprint speed, 21 home runs
Siri has broken out as a power hitter in his second full MLB season, already having hit three times as many homers as he did a year ago. He is also one of only three qualified hitters to be in the 90th percentile or better in both barrel rate and sprint speed, joining Byron Buxton and Mike Trout. With Siri, Luke Raley and Randy Arozarena (more on him later), the Rays are filled with young players who have impressed with their power and their fleet feet.
5. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
Notable stats: 95th percentile barrel rate, 96th percentile sprint speed, 18 home runs
Yes, we know that Trout hasn’t played in a game since July 3. And yes, we know that the stolen base has more or less become an extinct aspect of his game as he’s attempted to preserve his body later in his career (he hasn’t had more than two steals in a season since swiping 11 in 2019). But even with those caveats, you simply can’t build a power-speed list without including the man whose career has been defined by those traits since he became the first rookie to have a 30-30 season 11 years ago. Pertaining to this year specifically, Trout is the only MLB player in the 95th percentile or better in both barrel rate and sprint speed, showing that the 32-year-old still has a lot left in the tank.
6. Jack Suwinski, OF, Pirates
Notable stats: 97th percentile barrel rate, 84th percentile sprint speed, 21 home runs
Though the Pirates have cooled off since a hot start, Suwinski has continued to be one of the team’s top performers, leading Pittsburgh’s qualified hitters in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. But while Suwinski is one of 10 players to rank in the 80th percentile or better in both barrel rate and sprint speed, neither of those is his most impressive trait. In fact, Suwinski ranks in the 99th percentile in chase rate, trailing only Mookie Betts and Juan Soto. In his second MLB season, the 25-year-old outfielder has displayed an elite blend of power, speed and plate discipline.
7. Luis Robert Jr., OF, White Sox
Notable stats: 93rd percentile barrel rate, 82nd percentile sprint speed, 30 home runs
As was the case with Suwinski, Robert’s top trait might not be his power or speed, both of which are impressive in their own right. One could easily argue that it’s his defense, a field in which he ranks second among outfielders in Outs Above Average (behind a player who will be mentioned later). Of course, the fact that he has more home runs already this season than he had from 2021-22 combined is nothing to scoff at either. Combine all of that, and it’s easy to see why the 26-year-old earned his first career All-Star berth in 2023.
8. Julio Rodríguez, OF, Mariners
Notable stats: 18 home runs, 27 steals, 97th percentile sprint speed
Maybe Rodríguez’s production has dipped a bit since his legendary 2022 Rookie of the Year campaign, but this version of Rodríguez is still among MLB’s best power-speed threats. He already has more steals than he did a year ago, and his home run total, while on a weaker pace than in 2022, is still tied for the team lead with Cal Raleigh. And like Robert, Rodríguez also provides immense value on the defensive side of the ball, leading all outfielders with +11 Outs Above Average.
9. Fernando Tatis Jr., OF, Padres
Notable stats: 19 home runs, 17 steals, 94th percentile sprint speed
For obvious reasons, Tatis’ 2023 offseason was filled with questions. How would he be able to shake off the rust of missing the 2022 season? How would his body respond to recent wrist and shoulder surgeries? How would he handle the transition to the outfield following the team’s acquisition of Xander Bogaerts at shortstop? As it turns out, the answer to all of those questions was “very well.” At the plate, on the basepaths, and especially in the field -- where he ranks in the 97th percentile or better in both Outs Above Average and arm strength -- Tatis has continued to be a star, putting any doubts to bed about what he’d look like after the one-year absence.
10. Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays
Notable stats: 87th percentile barrel rate, 82nd percentile sprint speed, 18 home runs
There’s not much the 28-year-old can’t do on the field, and as a result, he’s become one of the biggest faces of Tampa Bay’s successful season. While he’s always been fast, his power hitting has been better than ever this season. His average exit velocity (92.6 mph) and barrels/PA (8.3%) are both career highs, helping lead to his first career All-Star appearance. With 12 steals so far this season, he has an outside shot at posting his third 20-20 year in as many full MLB seasons.