In the world of Statcast™, 2017 was in many ways about speed. With the introduction of Sprint Speed, we were able to directly track baserunner speed in a way that was never possible before, and the full leaderboards that are publicly available were immensely satisfying. Byron Buxton is No. 1,
In the world of Statcast™, 2017 was in many ways about speed. With the introduction of Sprint Speed, we were able to directly track baserunner speed in a way that was never possible before, and the full leaderboards that are publicly available were immensely satisfying. Byron Buxton is No. 1, but Billy Hamilton is basically tied with him. Bradley Zimmer is faster than you think he is. The bottom of the list is entirely first basemen, catchers and designated hitters. It works like you expect it should work.
As we look back at 2017, we can check out some of the Majors' fastest running plays, and while it's not all Buxton, he's definitely the King of Speed, at least as far as baseball is concerned right now.
FASTEST HOME TO HOME, BYRON BUXTON, 13.85 sec., Aug. 18
Let's start with the king, and let there be no further discussion about who baseball's fastest man is. All due respect to Hamilton, Dee Gordon, Amed Rosario, and others, but Buxton holds the crown, and you can see it in the way that he dominated both the outfield range leaderboards and the first three categories we're displaying here. That inside-the-parker wasn't just the fastest of the year, it was the fastest Statcast™ has tracked... breaking a record held by, you guessed it, Buxton himself, in 2016.
FASTEST HOME TO SECOND, BUXTON, 7.12 sec., Aug. 18
The home-to-second time came in the same game as the homer; Buxton owned the top four home-to-second times, and six of the top 10. If you prefer your home-to-second times to be only on doubles, and not continuing on to third, then Buxton had two of the top four there, too.
FASTEST HOME TO THIRD, BUXTON, 10.52 sec., Sept. 2
The triple was the second-fastest home-to-third time Statcast™ has tracked, behind a 10.45-second Hamilton triple in 2016. But again, Buxton dominates the leaderboard -- three of the top four home-to-third times and five of the top 10 -- belong to him, with Hamilton filling in the rest.
We promised you more than just Buxton, of course. Let's get to those now.
FASTEST HOME RUN TROT, ADAM ROSALES, 15.88 sec., June 25
Perhaps the only thing more predictable than Buxton owning all those speed records is Adam Rosales sitting atop the over-the-fence home run trot leaderboard, since that's basically "his thing." We noted it last winter, pointing out that he'd had 10 of the 11 fastest times in 2016, and then he had to best himself in '17, breaking his own record with a 15.88-second mark. (He had the second fastest, too. And the fifth fastest.)
Rosales split his 2017 between the A's and the D-Backs, and he's currently a free agent. He'll soon be 35, and we know he hit just .225/.260/.353 in 2017. But please, for everyone's sake, let's root for him to get a job. The baseball world needs to see those home-to-home trots.
FASTEST HOME TO FIRST: JOSE ALTUVE, 3.33 sec., Sept. 24
We learned a lot about Jose Altuve in his magical American League Most Valuable Player Award-winning season, but when it comes to base running, we especially learned that he knows how to turn on the jets when he needs to. We say that because despite his reputation for elite speed, his average Sprint Speed 28 ft/sec. is more "above average" than "great," yet as we saw when he flew around the bases to win Game 2 of the AL Championship Series, there's more there. On that run, he got up to 29.5 ft/sec.; on this one, which was the fastest home-to-first time of the last three years, he was up to 29.9 ft/sec. If not quite Hamilton-esque, it's close, and of course he gained an edge by moving with the bunt. It's just another thing Altuve was great at in 2017.
FASTEST NON-BUNT HOME TO FIRST: ALEN HANSON, 3.49 sec., Aug. 30
We exclude bunts here because bunt attempts are almost always faster, since the hitter is often moving out of the box at or before the moment he makes contact. This one isn't a bunt, but only technically; Alen Hanson does his best to ruin our definition by offering the clearest example of a "swinging bunt" you might ever see, blazing down the line in 3.49 seconds.
Despite a mere 39.6-mph exit velocity, Hanson placed it perfectly, and he was only 25 feet away from first by the time the catcher managed to pick it up. The owner of six 20-steal seasons in the Minors, Hanson, who reportedly just signed with the Giants, hasn't hit enough to keep a Major League job, but the elite speed is unquestionable; his season average Sprint Speed of 28.6 ft/sec. was in the top 10 percent of the Majors, and he outdid himself with his 30.6 ft/sec. there.