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DrungoHazewood

Does speed even matter?

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22 hours ago, weams said:

Martin is 20th in MLB in baserunning sprint speed.  

If you look at the MLB top ten in that, most of the players are around or below replacement.  Mondesi and Buxton are the only guys from 1-10 who a good regulars.  The rest are bunch players, pinch runners, defensive replacements.  Billy Hamilton seems to have lost a step, and now the fastest baserunner is Tim Locastro who has been worth half a win in 50 games for the D'backs.

Baseball has to be one of the few major sports where speed is largely uncorrelated to being good.

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9 minutes ago, DrungoHazewood said:

Martin is 20th in MLB in baserunning sprint speed.  

If you look at the MLB top ten in that, most of the players are around or below replacement.  Mondesi and Buxton are the only guys from 1-10 who a good regulars.  The rest are bunch players, pinch runners, defensive replacements.  Billy Hamilton seems to have lost a step, and now the fastest baserunner is Tim Locastro who has been worth half a win in 50 games for the D'backs.

Baseball has to be one of the few major sports where speed is largely uncorrelated to being good.

 As John Kruk put it, "I'm a baseball player not an athlete." 

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55 minutes ago, DrungoHazewood said:

Baseball has to be one of the few major sports where speed is largely uncorrelated to being good.

Terrance Gore has to have one of the most unique player pages I've seen:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/gorete01.shtml

He literally exists in the majors to run bases.

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/the-terrance-gore-effect-how-extreme-pinch-running-specialists-could-swing-close-games-with-their-legs/

Quote

In his four years with the Royals, Gore played in just 49 regular-season games and stepped to the plate just 14 times, a batting record that makes him look more like a relief pitcher than a key offensive player. Unlike many other speed merchants who can add a little more value as a late-inning defensive replacement, Gore's defense didn't afford him many chances in the field either, as he made just 10 outfield appearances over that four-year stretch. Still, K.C. manager Ned Yost squeezed every drop of value he could out of his 5-foot-7, 165-pound secret weapon. When Mike Moustakas reached base in the late innings of any close game, you could count on Gore taking his place. Ditto for Salvador Perez and Alex Rios. Even athletic left fielder Alex Gordon would occasionally cede his spot on the basepaths to Gore. In those 49 games, Gore grew into the most terrifying pinch-runner in the league, swiping 21 bases and scoring 14 runs.

 

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54 minutes ago, Enjoy Terror said:

 September callup most years, so a good baserunner, but not seen as someone worthy of a 25 man roster spot. 

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58 minutes ago, Enjoy Terror said:

We had a thread that lasted roughly eight minutes devoted to Gore, and how he was being DFA'd and would be an upgrade for the O's.  After a few comments referring to Gore as a glorified Herb Washington the thread mysteriously disappeared.

I do think baseball would be a little more interesting if there were fewer one-inning relievers and more spots for offensive specialists, as was the case 30-40 years ago.

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1 hour ago, OsFanSinceThe80s said:

 As John Kruk put it, "I'm a baseball player not an athlete." 

As baseball tentatively approaches some possible rules changes (i.e. the Atlantic League experiments) I hope they prioritize things that will incentivize athleticism.  Let's back away from slow-pitch softball strategies and get more players running really fast and doing impressive things.

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1 hour ago, Enjoy Terror said:

He is no Herb Washington. 

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3 minutes ago, DrungoHazewood said:

As baseball tentatively approaches some possible rules changes (i.e. the Atlantic League experiments) I hope they prioritize things that will incentivize athleticism.  Let's back away from slow-pitch softball strategies and get more players running really fast and doing impressive things.

I agree with you. I know it's heresy to some, but I'll take 1980's baseball over the game played today. I was still a kid, but athleticism seemed to be valued more then than it is today. 

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2 hours ago, DrungoHazewood said:

Martin is 20th in MLB in baserunning sprint speed.  

If you look at the MLB top ten in that, most of the players are around or below replacement.  Mondesi and Buxton are the only guys from 1-10 who a good regulars.  The rest are bunch players, pinch runners, defensive replacements.  Billy Hamilton seems to have lost a step, and now the fastest baserunner is Tim Locastro who has been worth half a win in 50 games for the D'backs.

Baseball has to be one of the few major sports where speed is largely uncorrelated to being good.

Yeah, I always say that and I get tossed at.  Baseball is mostly about having a unique hot tool. 

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44 minutes ago, atomic said:

He is no Herb Washington. 

You’re right.   He’s considerably better.    Washington stole 31 bases and was caught 17 times, and was worth -2 runs on the bases.   Gore has stolen 40 bases and been caught 9 times, and has been worth +3 runs on the bases.   

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3 hours ago, DrungoHazewood said:

Baseball has to be one of the few major sports where speed is largely uncorrelated to being good.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this isn't true. All things being equal, I'd wager big money that speed is correlated to better results, and that's primarily found on the defensive side of the ball.

The problem today (IMO) isn't just that baseball is played in a way that minimizes the value of speed on the basepaths, it's much more a problem that baseball isn't attracting the best athletes in the first place. In America, the better athletes are playing basketball, football, lacrosse and soccer, IMO. I think the biggest problem with baseball is that they're not cultivating talent in the neighborhoods that could really improve the overall state of the game. 

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16 minutes ago, LookinUp said:

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this isn't true. All things being equal, I'd wager big money that speed is correlated to better results, and that's primarily found on the defensive side of the ball.

The problem today (IMO) isn't just that baseball is played in a way that minimizes the value of speed on the basepaths, it's much more a problem that baseball isn't attracting the best athletes in the first place. In America, the better athletes are playing basketball, football, lacrosse and soccer, IMO. I think the biggest problem with baseball is that they're not cultivating talent in the neighborhoods that could really improve the overall state of the game. 

There are advantages to speed in baseball.  But there are more advantages to power, and power is the dominant strategy today.  With a strikeout an inning there's never been a time where defense was less important.  Between Honus Wagner and today we've converted six balls in play per team per game into Ks.  That's removing more than a shortstop's worth of responsibility from the field; Ozzie Smith's range factor was about five plays per game.

Triples are at all time lows, and steals are off almost 50% from the early 1980s.  And rosters are constructed so that September is the only time you can really use defensive and baserunning specialists. If you look at the top 50 in rWAR this year as many players have 2 or fewer steals as have 10 or more.

It's just not a speed game any more.  And I think that's reflected in your 2nd paragraph.  Scouts look for bat speed above all.  If you're a sprinter with 35 bat speed baseball basically tells you to go play another sport.  100 years ago you'd bunt and slap hit and walk your way to a .400 OBP.  That's just gone.

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25 minutes ago, weams said:

Yeah, I always say that and I get tossed at.  Baseball is mostly about having a unique hot tool. 

Ernie Lombardi had a 70 or 75 hit tool and 20 speed (he'd have had 0 speed if the scale went that low).  He's in the Hall.

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2 minutes ago, DrungoHazewood said:

There are advantages to speed in baseball.  But there are more advantages to power, and power is the dominant strategy today.  With a strikeout an inning there's never been a time where defense was less important.  Between Honus Wagner and today we've converted six balls in play per team per game into Ks.  That's removing more than a shortstop's worth of responsibility from the field; Ozzie Smith's range factor was about five plays per game.

Triples are at all time lows, and steals are off almost 50% from the early 1980s.  And rosters are constructed so that September is the only time you can really use defensive and baserunning specialists. If you look at the top 50 in rWAR this year as many players have 2 or fewer steals as have 10 or more.

It's just not a speed game any more.  And I think that's reflected in your 2nd paragraph.  Scouts look for bat speed above all.  If you're a sprinter with 35 bat speed baseball basically tells you to go play another sport.  100 years ago you'd bunt and slap hit and walk your way to a .400 OBP.  That's just gone.

Everything you're saying is true. I used the term "all things being equal" for a reason though. I believe baseball can be a sport full of power hitting guys with great bat speed and better foot speed.

It's really not dissimilar from the evolution of the NBA. Size has always dominated the league. Then it transitioned to a 3-point shooting league. Does that mean size doesn't dominate? Of course not. That size is just learning how to shoot 3 pointers and defend the pick and roll. Kevin Durant isn't going to be an outlier. He's what the future of basketball will look like. There's no doubt in my mind that baseball would evolve similarly with better athletes. 

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