Last week, I analyzed the 2016 home-to-first times for hitters. With the background information out of the way, I’ll examine at the 2017 speed data to find who’s running the faster and slowest, who’s changed the most since 2016, and how home-to-first times compare to Bill James’s speed score.
With all the Statcast batted ball data getting analyzed, I continue examining the home-to-first times. Fantasy owners may believe speed is mainly used to determine stolen base threats. It’s more than that.
It’s an input to many other fantasy related factors which can help explain a player’s age-related decline. Faster players will beat out a few extra ground balls for hits thereby raising their batting average and on-base percentage. Speed allows a player to score more once on base. It can add to a hitter’s power profile. Also, speed can help keep a player maintain their fielding range at a premium defensive position instead of moving to a statue-like position (e.g. first base). Finally, a drop in running speed may point to an injured player.
A few days ago, the people at MLB Advanced Media gave me the 2017 numbers for the season so far. Here are the leaders and laggards. Players needed a minimum 15 home-to-first times and then I averaged the top three values (full list).
|Name||Avg Top 3|
Just like with the 2016 list, no surprises here. Outfielders are still fast and catchers are still slow.
The big key with a second season’s worth of data, times can now be compared. Here are the players who’ve seen a 0.15 sec increase in their times or a 0.05 decline.
Here are my thoughts on some of the movers.
- Billy Hamilton is running faster. Good luck catchers.
- Domingo Santana struggled with an elbow injury in 2016 and never really go going. He’s never been a prolific minor league stolen base guy with a high of 12 in 2013. So far this season he as four steals. If he can get a dozen steals, his value would increase with 20 home run potential.
- Alcides Escobar appears to have below average speed (average is 4.30 seconds for right-handed hitters). His slowdown can be seen in no stolen base attempts and he’s been just one-for-five in bunt hits. If he’s lost a step, his shortstop defense could decline to the point where he eventually loses playing time.
- Jean Segura’s times have increased from elite status to almost league average. While I could see him continue to steal bases, he may need to be more selective. So far this season he is just 5 for 8 in attempts (62.5% success rate). With a quarter of the season done, he is on pace for only 20 steals which I think will be a disappointment for his owners.
With the new times available, I decided to see how well Bill James’s Speed Score metric compares to actual home-to-first times.
There is an obvious correlation with the r-squared working out to 0.31. While the pairs don’t match perfectly, I see no reason to ignore Speed Score. Given the lack of available speed information, Speed Score is still a good proxy for speed all these years later.
That’s it for today. Since I am just getting my hands on the home to first times myself, I’m trying to figure out how to perfectly utilize them. Let me know if any other way to manipulate and/or make the data available.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.