Sprint Speed values have been publicly available for a few seasons. While I see it mentioned for this or that, I don’t know how predictive it is or if should I care about it at all. After analyzing the data, Sprint Speed might need to be ignored in favor of Time-to-First. The stopwatch still rules.
The key, in my opinion, is if the ability to run fast can be predictive in any way. No one that I know of is playing in a Sprint Score league, so the speed with have a secondary effect. If a player is running slower, do their stolen bases drop? How about how many infield hits they can leg out? Generally, how will the players change in speed affect their stolen bases and batting average.
One factor to keep in mind is that the aging curve for stolen bases is just a drop with all humans reaching their peak sprinting speed in their early 20’s. There are going to be a lot of negative speed values coming up but that’s just aging pulling players down.
A second factor to remember is that teams are not allowing hitters to run as much. In 2015, there were over 2500 stolen bases league-wide. Last season, the value was under 2300 for a 9% decline. Again, more negative numbers.
Sprint Speed was first introduced in 2015 at Baseball Savant (links to Time-to-First values) and it is widely cited. Sprint Speed is not the only measured speed metric available. For one fewer season, Baseball Savant has each hitter’s run times to first base which have been the traditional measure of a player’s speed and it’s still used in scouting players. With the two metrics, it’s table time to what conclusions can be drawn.
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