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Speed never slumps: Each team's fastest player

MLB.com @williamfleitch

One of the great baseball maxims is "speed never slumps."

Sometimes hard-hit grounders don't find a hole, sometimes line drives are right at a guy, sometimes the wind knocks down would-be homers. But speed is always there. Speed is of use everywhere, from a dribbler down the third-base line, to a ball hit into the gap, to the cascading tension of a stolen-base attempt. The game changes a little bit every year, but speed is always useful. Speed is always in vogue.

One of the great baseball maxims is "speed never slumps."

Sometimes hard-hit grounders don't find a hole, sometimes line drives are right at a guy, sometimes the wind knocks down would-be homers. But speed is always there. Speed is of use everywhere, from a dribbler down the third-base line, to a ball hit into the gap, to the cascading tension of a stolen-base attempt. The game changes a little bit every year, but speed is always useful. Speed is always in vogue.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the fastest player on every team.

To determine this, we'll be using Sprint Speed, which is a Statcast™ metric that measures speed in feet per second. The fastest players top out at a tick above 30 feet per second (think Billy Hamilton), while the slowest guys are around 23 feet per second (your typical aging catcher). And, as you might have figured out, MLB average is right in the middle, at 27 feet per second.

Sprint Speed leaderboard

Here's a look at the fastest player on each team. As you'll see, not all these men are base-stealing threats, and the fun is not always necessarily with the players' speed, but how they use that speed. These speedsters are baseball at its fastest. Which is quite often its best.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Aledmys Diaz
Sprint speed: 28.6 feet per second
The Blue Jays have one of the older lineups in baseball, and Diaz, as one of the few players under 30, stood out for his wheels ... at least before an ankle sprain put him on the disabled list.

Orioles: Craig Gentry
Sprint Speed: 28.9 feet per second
I feel like it says something fundamental about the Orioles that their fastest player is in his mid-30s.

Rays: Mallex Smith
Sprint speed: 29.5 feet per second
No surprise here: Smith has been one of the fastest players in baseball since coming up with the Braves. He's, at last, getting on base at a playable clip this year, too.

Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Sprint speed: 28.1 feet per second
He's the best at everything else on this team. Why wouldn't he be the fastest Red Sox player as well? As a sign of his improvement across the board, he's actually faster than he was last year, when he was ninth among Red Sox players.

Video: BAL@BOS: Betts collects 3 hits, 3 steals vs. Orioles

Yankees: Brett Gardner
Sprint speed: 28.9 feet per second
Gardner has essentially been the Yankees' fastest player for a decade. He has certainly been consistent: His sprint speeds since Statcast™ began tracking: 28.9, 28.8, 28.9, 28.9.

AL CENTRAL
Indians: 
Bradley Zimmer
Sprint speed: 29.7 feet per second
Second place on the Indians? The ageless Rajai Davis, now 37 years old.

Royals: Paulo Orlando
Sprint speed: 29.1 feet per second
Despite his speed, Orlando has stolen only 18 bases in the Majors ... oh, and he's the only Brazilian player with a World Series ring, so there's that.

Tigers: Victor Reyes
Sprint speed: 29.2 feet per second
Fun factoid: Miguel Cabrera isn't the slowest player on the Tigers. (That's Victor Martinez.)

Twins: Byron Buxton
Sprint speed: 30.7 feet per second
No surprise here. Buxton is the fastest man in baseball, just like he was in 2016 and 2015. (He was second to Victor Robles last season.)

Video: MIN@BAL: Buxton sprints 30.9 feet per second for grab

White Sox: Adam Engel
Sprint speed: 30.1 feet per second
Engel is one of the best defensive outfielders in the Majors, thanks largely to the speed that earned him a scholarship offer to play football at Wisconsin. (As a quarterback, alas.)

AL WEST
Angels:
 Mike Trout
Sprint speed: 29.4 feet per second
Of course. Trout has actually gotten faster every season since 2016. Second-fastest on the team is Shohei Ohtani.
 
Video: HOU@LAA: Trout sprints to run down Altuve's long fly

Astros: Derek Fisher
Sprint speed: 29.5 feet per second
The real question may be, is he faster than his NBA namesake was in his prime?

Athletics: Boog Powell
Sprint speed: 28.4 feet per second
This much is certain -- this Boog Powell is the fastest Boog Powell in MLB history.

Mariners: Dee Gordon
Sprint speed: 29.3 feet per second
The slowest player in baseball is also on the Mariners. Nelson Cruz's 22 feet per second average sprint speed means Gordon would almost certainly pass him if Cruz were on first base and Gordon hit a double.

Rangers: Delino DeShields
Sprint speed: 30.4 feet per second
There are no Statcast™ numbers for when Delino's dad played, but considering this guy is the second-fastest player in baseball, Dad's going to have to work hard to convince us he was faster than his son.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves:
 Ronald Acuna Jr.
Sprint speed: 29.8 feet per second
Believe the hype. When the fastest guy on your team also has the highest average exit velocity on your team (which Acuna does), and, oh yeah, he's only 20 years old, it is extremely exciting.

Video: ATL@NYM: Acuna's sprint speed clocked at 31 ft/sec

Marlins: J.B. Shuck
Sprint speed: 29.8 feet per second
Somehow, Shuck has never stolen more than eight bases in a season during his six-year MLB career.

Mets: Amed Rosario
Sprint speed: 29.0 feet per second
Don't look now, but Rosario started to hit after being moved to the ninth spot in the Mets' order; his batting average is .278 in the last two weeks. It'd help if a player with this sort of speed walked a bit more, though.

Nationals: Trea Turner
Sprint speed: 29.9 feet per second
Turner is on pace for more than 50 steals, he's getting on base at a .371 clip and he's holding his own at a premium defensive position. If he adds a little more power, look out.

Video: NYM@WSH: Statcast™ measures Turner's sprint to first

Phillies: Scott Kingery
Sprint speed: 29.5 feet per second
Kingery's not hitting at all yet, but you've seen enough of his raw tools to at least understand what the Phillies were thinking with the contract extension they gave him before he'd ever played a big league game.

NL CENTRAL
Brewers: Christian Yelich
Sprint speed: 28.5 feet per second
Think the Brewers had a specific plan this offseason? The two men they added to the lineup this offseason, Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, are the two fastest players on the roster by a good amount.

Cardinals: Harrison Bader
Sprint speed: 29.1 feet per second
Tommy Pham spent all winter attempting to increase his speed, but he still can't touch Bader, the Bronxville, N.Y., native who has taken over the Cardinals' fourth outfielder spot ... and may be ready for even more than that.

Cubs: Javier Baez
Sprint speed: 28.9 feet per second
Baez is starting to develop a little more plate discipline, which is really the only thing standing in the way of becoming an upper-tier superstar.

Video: CHC@CLE: Baez hustles to stretch base hit into double

Pirates: Starling Marte
Sprint speed: 28.9 feet per second
His oblique injury might slow him down a bit, but it is worth noting that after his nightmare 2017, Marte's numbers so far are the best they've been any year of his career.

Reds: Billy Hamilton
Sprint speed: 30.1 feet per second
At last, something Joey Votto isn't best at on the Reds. (Tucker Barnhart is the only regular slower than Votto.)

Video: CIN@SF: Hamilton covers 105 ft for a running catch

NL WEST
D-backs:
 Jarrod Dyson
Sprint speed: 29.2 feet per second
Vroom vroom.

Video: LAD@ARI: Dyson swipes third for his 2nd steal

Dodgers: Cody Bellinger
Sprint speed: 28.8 feet per second
Not much has gone right for the Dodgers so far this season, but Bellinger still contains a near-overflowing cauldron of talent.

Giants: Andrew McCutchen
Sprint speed: 28.7 feet per second
Unsurprisingly, the four fastest Giants are all over 30.

Padres: Manuel Margot
Sprint speed: 29.3 feet per second
He's actually tied with Franchy Cordero at 29.3. I'd still take Luis Perdomo over both of them in a race.

Rockies: Trevor Story
Sprint speed: 29.7 feet per second
Story is finally using his world-class speed on the basepaths this year; he already has seven steals, one shy of his career high.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.