This article is part of our Rounding Third series.
We've spent a good amount of the never-ending draft season discussing stolen base strategies, but less so looking for sources of speed. Yes, the best indicator of future stolen bases probably is past stolen bases, but there have to be other indicators as well, right? The next few weeks I'll dig into those indicators, starting this week with Statcast Metrics.
One aspect of this article I struggled with was setting the parameters for these categories. There's an inherent conflict between finding a useful statistical sample and digging deep to find a lesser owned/valued or even unowned source of speed. What I think I'll do is give last year's playing time a pretty high threshold for the overall list, but lower that number when looking at individual positions. Part of this process is not knowing what I'm going to find - will it reveal a lot of gems, or a pittance?
Let's start with the definition of Statcast's Sprint Speed. It's defined as "... feet per second in a player's fastest one-second window ...," pulling from two events — runs of two or more bases, and home-to-first on weakly hit grounders. There are some exceptions to each of the two events — here's a superb explanation by Mike Petriello of the Sprint Speed metric.
For the overall list, let's set the threshold at a minimum of 100 "Competitive Runs," the events listed in the definition above. We'll go with a much smaller amount per position