If you’ve read this site for a while, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with how fast Jean Machi can run. Look at the dude fly!
I have that as 4 seconds flat, which is roughly the home-to-first time you might expect from a center fielder. It’s like he was riding a gas-powered rocket!
Anywho, Major League Baseball tasked their StatCast gremlins on a new project, which is to find the average foot speed of every position player and measure it against their peers. You can find the stats here, and you can sort them by team, year, league, position ... it’s a lot of fun.
We’ll go through the Giants players in order from slowest to fastest. You’ll never believe it, but the slowest player on the team is ...
11. Buster Posey
He’s not just slow compared to the rest of the team. He’s slow compared to other catchers, although closer to the middle than you might think. There are just four catchers who run faster than the average major leaguer: Travis d’Arnaud, Austin Barnes, Willson Contreras, and J.T. Realmuto.
Posey is also just a tick slower than ...
10. Nick Hundley
When teams don’t have above-average speed from their catchers, they risk falling 20 games below .500 before the All-Star break. That’s just science.
9. Brandon Crawford
This surprised me because I always considered Crawford to have at least average speed, if not above-average speed. And he did! Last year.
This year, though, he’s dropped from 27.3 feet per second to 26.3 feet per second, a reminder that turning 30 isn’t a whole lot of baseball fun. This doesn’t have to mean that he’s a bad baserunner, though, which we’ll talk about at the end.
8. Brandon Belt
Faster than Crawford! I would watch the foot race on pay-per-view, and you would too. Belt really isn’t that slow, but he sure is a goofy runner, which helps with the perception that he’s slow.
He’s slower than the average player, but he’s actually on the faster side for a first baseman. And he happens to be the fastest Brandon on the team.
7. Christian Arroyo
He’s not on the team anymore, but he still qualified, and this is where the Giants start getting into above-average speed. He’s faster than Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon, both of whom run fairly well for third basemen. We’ll see what happens when Arroyo gets older, but for now those young legs are good for scootin’.
6. Joe Panik
It turns out that second basemen are generally faster than most of the other positions, so Panik is an average runner for his position. But he’s a faster runner than the average major leaguer, and he’s right in the middle of the Giants’ position players.
5. Eduardo Nuñez and Denard Span (tie)
This surprises me for a couple reasons. The first is that I was sure that Nuñez was going to be the fastest player on the team. The second is that I was pretty sure that Span wasn’t going to come close, even though he used to be one of the faster players in the American League.
Apparently, the helmet flying off the head every danged play makes a huge difference when it comes to perception with Nuñez. That’s a lesson for all you kids out there.
3. Hunter Pence
He should be slowing down, but he’s still a freakish athlete. He’s comfortably above-average compared to the other right fielders in baseball, behind lesser known players like Ben Gamel and Scott Schebler.
2. Austin Slater
It’s not just the way he flips his bat into the on-deck circle. He’s just fast. He’s the second-fastest player on the team according to MLB, and his speed gives me hope that he can play a serviceable center field in the majors one day. He’s faster than Ender Inciarte, for example, which is kind of stunning.
Of course, it’s not all foot speed when it comes to outfield defense, but it certainly helps. Get him some experience out there in the second half, and see what happens.
1. Gorkys Hernandez
I wouldn’t have guessed this in 10 tries. Hernandez is as fast or faster than Eric Young, Jr. and Peter Bourjos, both of whom make their living with speed. He’s just a step faster than Gregor Blanco and Adam Eaton, and he’s as close to Trea Turner as he is to Denard Span.
Maybe it’s time for the Giants to start talking about an extension, idk.
Other surprises from the database:
- Billy Hamilton is fast
- Mac Williamson would be tied with Gorkys Hernandez if his 2016 numbers are the same this year. Which is freaky.
- Trevor Brown is quite fast when it comes to catchers.
- Matt Duffy was faster than Kelby Tomlinson in 2015, which I wasn’t expecting.
- The fastest Giants player in the database was Justin Maxwell in 2015.
Consider yourself educated on Giants foot speed. There’s a spectrum that runs from Gorkys to Buster, and the Giants have more above-average runners than you think. And that part about Crawford being slow? He’s one of the best baserunners on the team and Belt is one of the worst, if you believe the metrics from FanGraphs. It’s not all about speed, you know. Sometimes it’s how you use it.