Baseball scouts travel with two electronic tools: 1) a radar gun and 2) a stopwatch.
We all know the purpose of the gun. Stopwatches are commonly used to measure the time it takes a player to get from the batter's box to first base (from the point of contact with the ball to contact with the bag). Ideally, you get a guy running out a grounder at full speed. Such an event typically occurs in less than a third of the batter's plate appearances.
Ripe in scouting, I didn't even think to bring a stopwatch to the Arizona Fall League. Fortunately we captured hundreds of video clips. And after reviewing all of them, I was able to gather the data below. It should be more accurate than what most people recorded at live games.
The MLB Scouting Bureau uses the rubric below to grade speed (in seconds). Players are separated by the batters box from which they run -- it generally takes righties longer to get to first than lefties.
|8 -- 4.0||8 -- 3.9||8 -- Outstanding|
|7 -- 4.1||7 -- 4.0||7 -- Well above average|
|6 -- 4.2||6 -- 4.1||6 -- Above average|
|5 -- 4.3||5 -- 4.2||5 -- Average|
|4 -- 4.4||4 -- 4.3||4 -- Below average|
|3 -- 4.5||3 -- 4.4||3 -- Well below average|
|2 -- 4.6+||2 -- 4.5+||2 -- Poor|
The table below can be used as rough speed rankings of the 45 AFL players we have data for. The portion to the right is the same data with players alphabetized by first name.
|Rk||Player||Grade||Ave.||Bats||No. 1||No. 2||No. 3||Player||Grade||Ave.||Bats||No. 1||No. 2||No. 3|
|1||Hector Gomez||80||4.00||R||4.0||4.0||4.0||Andrew Lambo||50||4.20||L||4.2||4.2|
|2||Matt Angle||75||3.20||L||3.2||-- drag bunt||Brad Emaus||20||4.65||R||4.7||4.6|
|3||Cale Iorg||75||3.70||R||3.7||-- bunt||Brent Morel||40||4.40||R||4.4|
|4||Dustin Ackley||75||3.90||L||3.9||Bryan Anderson||20||4.60||L||4.6||4.6|
|5||Domonic Brown||70||4.00||L||4.0||4.0||Buster Posey||30||4.50||R||4.5||4.5|
|6||Jose Tabata||70||4.10||R||4.1||4.1||Cale Iorg||75||3.70||R||3.7||-- bunt|
|7||Jose Iglesias||70||4.10||R||4.1||Carlos Rivero||25||4.57||R||4.5||4.6||4.6|
|8||Cedric Hunter||60||4.10||L||4.0||4.1||4.2||Carlos Triunfel||40||4.40||R||4.4||4.4||4.4|
|9||Jemile Weeks||60||4.20||R||4.2||4.2||Casey Kelly||30||4.53||R||4.5||4.5||4.6|
|10||Casper Wells||60||4.20||R||4.2||Casper Wells||60||4.20||R||4.2|
|11||Jordan Danks||55||4.15||L||4.1||4.2||Cedric Hunter||60||4.10||L||4.0||4.1||4.2|
|12||Grant Desme||55||4.25||R||4.2||4.3||Chris Marrero||20||4.70||R||4.7||4.7||4.7|
|13||Andrew Lambo||50||4.20||L||4.2||4.2||Chris Parmelee||20||4.65||L||4.7||4.6|
|14||Josh Bell||50||4.20||L||4.2||4.2||Daniel Descalso||45||4.25||L||4.3||4.2|
|15||Danny Espinosa||50||4.20||L||4.2||4.2||Danny Espinosa||50||4.20||L||4.2||4.2|
|16||Daniel Descalso||45||4.25||L||4.3||4.2||Danny Espinosa||30||4.50||R||4.4||4.5||4.6|
|17||Ryan Kalish||45||4.25||L||4.3||4.2||Daryl Jones||40||4.30||L||4.3||4.3||4.3|
|18||Marcus Lemon||45||4.30||L||4.3||David Cooper||20||4.80||L||4.8|
|19||Russ Mitchell||45||4.35||R||4.4||4.3||Domonic Brown||70||4.00||L||4.0||4.0|
|20||Daryl Jones||40||4.30||L||4.3||4.3||4.3||Dustin Ackley||75||3.90||L||3.9|
|21||Mitch Mooreland||40||4.30||L||4.3||Freddie Freeman||20||4.75||L||4.8||4.7|
|22||Carlos Triunfel||40||4.40||R||4.4||4.4||4.4||Grant Desme||55||4.25||R||4.2||4.3|
|23||Matt McBride||40||4.40||R||4.4||Hank Conger||20||4.75||L||4.7||4.8|
|24||Brent Morel||40||4.40||R||4.4||Hector Gomez||80||4.00||R||4.0||4.0||4.0|
|25||Jonathan Lucroy||40||4.43||R||4.5||4.4||4.4||Jason Castro||35||4.35||L||4.4||4.3|
|26||Starlin Castro||40||4.45||R||4.5||4.4||Jemile Weeks||60||4.20||R||4.2||4.2|
|27||Josh Bell||40||4.45||R||4.4||4.5||Jonathan Lucroy||40||4.43||R||4.5||4.4||4.4|
|28||Jason Castro||35||4.35||L||4.4||4.3||Jordan Danks||55||4.15||L||4.1||4.2|
|29||Rene Tosoni||35||4.40||L||4.4||Jose Iglesias||70||4.10||R||4.1|
|30||Danny Espinosa||30||4.50||R||4.4||4.5||4.6||Jose Tabata||70||4.10||R||4.1||4.1|
|31||Casey Kelly||30||4.53||R||4.5||4.5||4.6||Josh Bell||50||4.20||L||4.2||4.2|
|33||Buster Posey||30||4.50||R||4.5||4.5||Josh Bell||40||4.45||R||4.4||4.5|
|32||Mike Moustakas||25||4.45||L||4.5||4.4||Josh Rodriguez||25||4.60||R||4.6|
|34||Carlos Rivero||25||4.57||R||4.5||4.6||4.6||Josh Vitters||20||4.70||R||4.7|
|35||Josh Rodriguez||25||4.60||R||4.6||Marcus Lemon||45||4.30||L||4.3|
|36||Taylor Green||20||4.50||L||4.5||Matt Angle||75||3.20||L||3.2||-- drag bunt|
|37||Yonder Alonso||20||4.60||L||4.6||4.6||Matt McBride||40||4.40||R||4.4|
|38||Bryan Anderson||20||4.60||L||4.6||4.6||Mike Moustakas||25||4.45||L||4.5||4.4|
|39||Chris Parmelee||20||4.65||L||4.7||4.6||Mitch Mooreland||40||4.30||L||4.3|
|40||Brad Emaus||20||4.65||R||4.7||4.6||Rene Tosoni||35||4.40||L||4.4|
|41||Chris Marrero||20||4.70||R||4.7||4.7||4.7||Russ Mitchell||45||4.35||R||4.4||4.3|
|42||Josh Vitters||20||4.70||R||4.7||Ryan Kalish||45||4.25||L||4.3||4.2|
|43||Hank Conger||20||4.75||L||4.7||4.8||Starlin Castro||40||4.45||R||4.5||4.4|
|44||Freddie Freeman||20||4.75||L||4.8||4.7||Taylor Green||20||4.50||L||4.5|
|45||David Cooper||20||4.80||L||4.8||Yonder Alonso||20||4.60||L||4.6||4.6|
Before you jump to any conclusions, note the following:
a. A variety of factors can result in a misleading reading. That's why I tried to get as many samples as possible. But still be careful with these small samples. I gave guys grades for the fun of it, but each grade needs to be put into context. Remember, the difference between an outstanding runner and poor runner is only about half a second! That doesn't leave much margin for error.
b. There's always a chance that a guy is hurt or extremely fatigued when you time him. For example, I had Hector Gomez at 4.5 seconds from contact to first base last May -- he wasn't completely healthy then. Gomez was a half second faster at the AFL. On the flip side, Buster Posey was a step slower at the AFL than he was in High-A (tired legs).
c. Some batters take big swings that really slow them down out of the box. Danny Espinosa from the right side is a good example. His swing pulls him from first base then he has to balance and accelerate. But he does just fine getting out of the box as a lefty.
I'll have a follow-up piece shortly to provide some analysis on what I've taken away from this data.
Until then, you can follow me on twitter.