Fastest Man in Baseball and why doesn’t Trout steal more?

fastest_runnersAs we know, you can’t measure speed by stolen bases alone. Sure, you need to be fast to steal bases but a high number of stolen bases does not mean you are the fastest.

This year – Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton, and Jose Altuve have been swiping bases like crazy, while many are wondering – has Mike Trout slowed down?  Trout has only 10 stolen bases this year compared to the others 43, 38, and 41.

An interesting statistic is that Trout has been on base 163 times this year.  Stolen base leader Dee Gordon has been on base 134 times.  However, if you take away extra base hits from both of them you have them on first base at 109 times (Gordon) and 110 times (Trout).  So, theoretically, they both have had the same number of chances to steal 2nd.

There has been a lot of speculation as to why Trout is stealing less this year, including that Puljos doesn’t like people stealing when he is at the plate, and that pitchers are getting the ball to the plate faster because of the Trout stealing threat.

What we know for sure, is that so far this year, Trout has a 100% success rate in his 10 attempts.  Gordon sits at a respectable 83%.  Trout’s rate going back to 2012 is 88.3% which is major league leading for runners with more than 90 stolen bases.

There is no doubt that all three men are fast.   I give the nod to Hamilton though (barely) based on his nearly 22MPH speed to first base captured by MLB Statcast.  In addition, Hamilton had a 3.3 second time down to first base, which may be the best EVER.  Gordon and Trout have both clocked times of 3.5 second which is blazing fast as well – and Trout is doing it from the RIGHT side of the plate.  Recently, both Trout and Gordon broke the 20MPH barrier running the bases in the All Star Game.

Trout is also REALLY good at beating out infield hits.  He led the league in 2013 with a 16.2% and Hamilton and Gordon weren’t even in the same ballpark.

There is no question that Trout could, and perhaps SHOULD be stealing more bases.  He has the best success rate since 1951 and he sits so far this season with only 10 swipes.  Trout has said he’s picking his steals carefully and that he doesn’t want to run into out.

But if you look at those 110 times on first base and let’s say he tries to steal on 33% of them, that’s 36 attempts.  Even at an 85% success rate that’s 31 steals and 5 misses.  His stolen base success rate, coupled with his power could put him in the elite 40/40 club if he started stealing again at his 2012 or even 2013 rate.

Perhaps he is not the fastest man in baseball, but he is damn close.  Right now we’ll let Gordon and Hamilton fight that out while Trout resumes maybe not being the fastest – but certainly the all around best.

 

 

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