Growing up in the 90’s there was always talks of guys having a great power and speed combination. In the neighborhood that I lived in there weren’t many kids my age. Truthfully it was just me, and a set of twins – both boys who were my age. We were all really big into baseball. And we all had different favorite players, too. Mine was Ken Griffey Jr. The twins had their own stakes in Barry Bonds and Frank Thomas. One of us was clearly right as to who was the best of the bunch, and it wasn’t me. Of course I didn’t know how to properly value guys at the time, either.
What is and even then was clear, is that two of us were in favor of the power and speed player. Brandon, however, chose Frank Thomas. And there’s nothing wrong with Frank Thomas – he could absolutely rake. But he was no Ken Griffey Jr. or Barry Bonds. They could rake, with power, and they could run on you when they wanted, too. In the mid-to-late 90’s the game began to really change into more of a power only game as we entered into what is now known as the steroid era of baseball. The stolen base has never recovered. And while the risk/reward for a steal is nowhere near as valuable as it once was, being able to be a menace on the bases is still valuable.
Today I wanted to take a look at all of the players in the Cincinnati Reds farm system when it comes to their speed and power combination. In the minor leagues the details aren’t as available as they are with the majors. So we’re going to keep things a little bit more simple. For the speed aspect we are going to use Fangraphs “speed” score. And for the power aspect we are going to use a players Isolated Power, adjusted for the league(s) that they played in.
The further to the right the dot, the better the speed score for a player was. The higher up the chart, the better their power was. The power is adjusted to the league (but not by ballpark – so keep that in mind, too), so above 0 means better than the league average, while below 0 is obviously below the league average.
It should also be noted here that the speed score from the rookie level leagues just seems out of whack. Among the Top 20, only five players were from full-season leagues. Michael Siani was the only guy in the Top 5, and he ranked 5th, from a full-season league. Feel free to make some internal adjustments if you’d like to when looking at the data below.
Back to the chart now: Jose Acosta is that dot furthest to the right. He had the highest speed score of anyone, by a rather wide margin. And he also had well above-average power on the season, too. A.J. Bumpass stands out a bit, too. He had the 7th best speed score, and his +.085 isolated power score was 13th in the organization, too.
Let’s take a look at how everyone with at least 150 plate appearances stacked up.
|Caleb Van Blake||157||5.51||.102|
|Elly De La Cruz||186||4.57||-.002|
A few things stuck out to me. I expected Brian O’Grady to have a better speed score than he did. 20 steals and just 4 caught stealing feels like it should have warranted a better overall number than one that ranked him 42nd out of 93 players. Not that it sticks out, but it feels very on the nose: 8 catchers/former catchers were among the bottom 13 spots in the speed score. It was certainly a down season for Jose Siri, but seeing him rated 31 in the speed score and 53rd in the power score would have been a shocking thing to suggest when the season began.
With all of that said, these are simply statistical pieces of information based on one season. Players learn. Players change and sometimes they improve. Development isn’t linear. This is only a piece of the informational pie. It’s not measuring tools, or future ability – it’s just attempting to measure what happened in the 2019 season.