If someone told you that Billy Hamilton was the fastest Cincinnati Reds player, the first thing through your mind is probably some iteration of “tell me something that I don’t know, genius”. Billy Hamilton had the second highest sprint speed of all players in baseball, trailing only Minnesota Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. Everyone knows that Billy Hamilton is incredibly fast. What we don’t all know is just how the rest of the team stacks up by comparison.

With the implementation of the Statcast system, we have actual data for all of the players in the big leagues. Sort of. They are providing us with baserunning sprint speed. That is useful, for sure. But, it’s missing some context, too. On the bases, unless you are running through the bag at first, or stealing a base, you probably aren’t going full out because you are thinking about how to round a bag and adjusting your stride to hit the bag with the right step. In the outfield, chasing down a ball, you don’t run into issues like that. We, however, don’t have the data for that (though MLB most certainly does).

What if I told you that Jesse Winker was faster than Eugenio Suarez? You’d probably think I were crazy. But, the data doesn’t lie. Jesse Winker was in fact faster than Eugenio Suarez during the 2017 season. Let’s take a look at how the Reds individual players stack up compared to everyone in the league.

Players Among The Top 10%:

  • Billy Hamilton: 30.1 feet per second (2nd overall)
  • Phillip Ervin: 28.8 feet per second (30th overall)

Players Among The Top 20%:

Players Among The Top 30%:

Players Among The Top 40%:

Players Among The Top 50%:

Players Among The Top 60%:

Players Among The Top 70%:

  • Jesse Winker: 26.8 feet per second (280th overall)
  • Eugenio Suarez: 26.7 feet per second (285th overall)
  • Scooter Gennett: 26.7 feet per second (300th overall)
  • Zack Cozart: 26.6 feet per second (311th overall)

Players Among The Top 80%:

Players Among the Top 90%:

Players Among The Bottom 10%:

Here’s a cleaner comparison of just the Reds players, as well as an inclusion for league average.

Player Speed (ft / sec)
Hamilton, Billy 30.1
Ervin, Phillip 28.8
Schebler, Scott 28.4
Peraza, Jose 28.2
Kivlehan, Patrick 27.4
MLB Average 27.1
Duvall, Adam 27.0
Winker, Jesse 26.8
Suarez, Eugenio 26.7
Gennett, Scooter 26.7
Cozart, Zack 26.6
Mesoraco, Devin 25.8
Barnhart, Tucker 25.6
Votto, Joey 25.6

Faster than expected Reds

Team speed isn’t exactly a strong point for the Reds. They have four guys who are clearly above-average. A few guys that hover in that average range and then three guys returning that are clearly below-average. The two things that jumped out to me was just how fast Jesse Winker was, at least by comparison, to some other Reds. That he graded out better than the starting shortstop and second baseman kind of blows me away.

The other was just how well Phillip Ervin graded out. I’ve always said that he’s a plus runner, and significantly faster than he looks when you watch him. He’s deceptively fast. Despite knowing these things, he was a little bit higher up the MLB chart than I expected him to be. Being among the Top 10% of players in baseball is incredibly fast. Even when compared to other center fielders, he stands out a bit. Of the 67 players who are listed in the “center field” chart, Ervin ranks 19th, but his 28.8 is also tied at 16th with several other players. Even among the position with far and away the largest group of “really fast players”, he’s among the fastest.


16 Responses

  1. victor vollhardt

    In the Giants/Rays deal for Longoria—Denard Span was part of the package going to the Rays. Before the deal the Giants had a center-fielder (Span) with decreasing range due to age and injury—now he is gone. Does this bring Hamilton back into the Giants’ picture?It would seem so. If the Reds decide to move Hamilton (and I hope NOT)—they have to get a large haul for this very unique player. And he is unique— despite low BA and on base percentage.Unless a third team is involved the Giants have very little to offer. Crawford? This will be very interesting.

  2. paul nyhart

    So I believe you kind of explained this, but what exactly are they measuring by “baserunning sprint speed.” The cameras would have to be in a consistent, set position I’d think, so what are they measuring? First to third?

    I guess I don’t see how this is any different than measuring a player’s “home to first” time.

  3. Shamrock

    How about utilityman Arroyo and longterm Of prospect Ramos?
    Christian Arroyo plays some SS, and I think this is a need position for us now that Cozy’s gone…

    • Krozley

      Arroyo was traded to the Rays. Giants don’t have much to offer if Ramos isn’t included.

  4. DocProc

    Would be cool to see Schebler take over CF, with Billy as a pinch runner and defensive replacement off the bench.

    Schebler was a five-sport athlete in high school, including track. Let him play a bit deeper and teach him to get quick jumps and good reads. A few bloopers may fall, but as long as he flags down balls in the gap, we’re good.

  5. daTROJAN

    i would like to see the speeds of some of our prospects.
    if you would have to take a guess who would be our no 1 blazer in the minors

    • Doug Gray

      Jose Siri if you believe what the Reds people tell you. I’m not going to argue with that.

  6. Michael W.

    Doug, I believe I have read that Philip Ervin wasn’t thought of as being able to cover center full time but more of a corner outfielder…and in the minors that he played in the corner more. ( this is all from memory I could be incorrect) but I assumed he was not considered in center because of his defense?? Do these numbers of his speed now project that he could cover center better than maybe was thought before? If not..why ( from a defense only perspective)

    • Doug Gray

      There’s more to defense than just the speed. I’ve always said that Ervin had the speed required to play center – though, I may have cut him short in that regard.

      But, take for example the Gold Glove winner Ender Inciarte – while he’s definitely fast (because all center fielders are), he is nowhere near the top of the list in terms of speed. He ranked 48th! among just the center fielders in terms of sprint speed. Perhaps the reaction time (reads) or route running are more of a problem for Ervin, which makes his speed play down a little bit at a position where everyone is really fast.

    • CP

      Michael, I was going to ask this exact same question.

      Doug, it’s no doubt that there is much more to CF defense than just speed, but with this new information it gives me hope that Ervin has more of a ceiling in his CF defense than previously thought. You can teach better routes, first step, ect. But what you cannot teach is speed.

      • R Lamanna

        CP think you are correct.Ive watched Ervin at Dayton and on video probably more than any other Reds OF so his speed doesn’t surprise me ,in person he seems jet fast.He is a very good base runner which only enhances his speed. But back to defense in CF,he struggled w balls hit directly at him.If u draw a icicles triangle using his left and right shoulder as the base and extending it to the wall..for some reason this is his dead zone.He doesn’t seem to see the ball hit right at him and gets a slow clumsy jump on the ball.Balls hit to the right or left gap he will run down. He doesn’t seem to have this problem in left.
        He’s an exciting player and the reason I’m willing to trade Duvall or Hamillton

  7. Alex

    I knew schebler was fairly fast but hes the one that surprises me most here not Ervin honestly. Schebler is faster than peraza? Peraza was looked at as a plus runner while Schebler was just average

  8. daTrojan

    was super surprised about schebler as well,
    if you look at everythig involved stats, power,speed, salary, he may actually have been an upgrade over Bruce