What’s the fastest position in baseball?

This discussion came up last night and there are two camps. The middle infield camp. And the center field camp. As a coworker says, “Short stops are the best all around athletes, but center fielders are the fastest. Because they have to cover the most ground.” In favor of the center fielders is this season’s stolen bases statistics. Anyway, the floor is open. Which position is fastest? How should we define fastest? Is there any reasonable way of quantitatively answering the question as you define it?

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9 Responses to What’s the fastest position in baseball?

  1. Sabrina says:

    SHORT STOPS ARE THE FASTEST!!! 🙂

    let the debate continue….

  2. Julia! says:

    Apparently this is not the first time this has come up. For a lengthy discussion of baseball speed, look here http://perfectgame.atinfopop.com/4/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=114295945&f=6174069131&m=6224066592

    I vote center fielders, and agree that statistics on 60 yard dash times should be recorded, if only because it’s a fun statistic.

  3. Nate says:

    I think you need to differentiate between quickest and fastest. Additionally, it may be true that there is little difference between the averages of players in those positions, because enough were recruited for a variety of other reasons besides speed/quickness. Lets say there are 100 of each player across the league. You have to assume that a significant percentage of each category are excellent hitters but are slower, great at fielding the ball, are smart players, etc etc – if you have significant other standout strengths, this can offset speed a great deal. Pure speed doesn’t matter as much in baseball as it does in most other team sports.

    That said, I think that on the average you’d find that center fielders, on average, edge out short stops on sustained top end speed which is why they can cover so much more ground and steal bases. Short stops have the quickest reaction time off the line and the likely have the edge in low-end power. Thus, they can make powerful lunging catches, make it to second to cover the bag quickly, etc etc.

  4. Brett (who is awesome) says:

    I liked this wikipedia article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadoff_hitter
    It is generally about lead-off hitters, and who is the lead-off hitter for which team. However, with the assumption that lead-off hitters are the fastest guys on the team (which is arguable), the numbers are as follows:

    Lead off hitters:
    18 play outfield (mostly center, but probably varies also depending on ballpark)
    10 play middle infield (this includes both second and shortstop, but shortstop is majority)
    1 plays third base
    1 plays utility

    Lots of assumptions are being made here, and Nate makes good points that there are many other factors that need to be considered. However, as a general comment, I would say center fielders are probably the fastest position within the MLB.

  5. Nancy Morgan says:

    Short stop i.e. Derek Jeter is the fastest and hottest baseball player ever! 🙂

  6. JJ says:

    The question depends on how you look at it. Hands down, the fastest position is Closer (or relieve Pitcher). These guys typically through in the 90s on every pitch. If it’s reaction time or quickness, I vote Third Base, it’s not called the hot corner for no reason. Hand speed = Catchers, especially those that have to catch for left-handed rookies. Base running – it’s going to be the #1 or #6 hitters usually (outfielders are typical here). Bat speed = 1st basemen, who have dominated the home run charts for decades, and those that can flat out run = CF, of course.

  7. Mike says:

    I would say CF are the fastest. My uninformed opinion…

  8. Jo says:

    My argument is based solely on past experience so judge me as you wish. I think that you can turn a short stop into a center fielder a lot easier than you can turn a center fielder into short stop. I believe that short stops require quicker reflexes and a faster start than center fielders. Center fielders require just as much speed, especially running down deep corner hits, but they have more time to judge where the ball is going.

  9. Rickey Henderson says:

    Rickey Henderson.

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