The Yankees can hit. They have arguably the deepest bullpen in the game when healthy. Their rotation has the potential to be tops in the American League when they’re on. But are they fast?
Much has been made of Giancarlo Stanton’s move to left field this season and his defensive play has been scrutinized. So far, so good. Many, however, have the misconception that players such as him and Aaron Judge are liabilities in the field due to their stature. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty defensive statistics, but rather will look at how the Yankees stack up in terms of speed. Of course, having more speed allows you to cover more ground in the outfield, for example.
To do this, I looked at players’ sprint speeds, which takes their “feet per second in [their] fastest one-second window” on individual plays. Just for fun, outfielder Delino DeShields of the Texas Rangers has logged the fastest sprint speed so far this season at 30.6 feet per second (minimum five competitive runs). On the flip side, Nelson Cruz of the Mariners holds the slowest sprint speed at 20.7 feet per second.
Focusing on the Yankees, it comes as no surprise that Brett Gardner has been the fastest, averaging 28.6 feet per second on his runs. This most definitely aids in him being a perennial Gold Glove candidate in left field.
But let’s go back to Judge and Stanton. The league average for any player is approximately 27 feet per second. Judge is slightly above that at 27.4 feet per second, but still ranks above or tied with players such as George Springer, Bryce Harper, and Dexter Fowler. Overall, among qualified right fielders, he ranks thirtieth out 48.
Stanton has actually been a hair faster, averaging 27.7 feet per second on his runs. That’s good for twenty-second among 54 qualified left fielders (Gardner ranks tenth).
Yes, having long legs helps. But the fact is Judge and Stanton are not burdens in the outfield. Specifically, we have seen some terrific plays from Judge over the past couple of seasons, including multiple in big spots in last year’s postseason.
Overall, as seen in the below graphic, the Yankees are mostly above average when it comes to speed. Even Gleyber Torres, who received a grade of 50 (average) on the prospect grading scale of 20 to 80, has impressed on the bases, with a 28.4 feet per second sprint speed (second on the team).
The Yankees are clicking on all cylinders right now and including the speed element, it’s hard to find a glaring flaw in the team at the moment.