Hamilton, Tapia have Sprint Speed in common

Statcast reveals top gear for Reds center fielder, Rockies prospect

Hamilton, Tapia have Sprint Speed in common

DENVER -- Billy Hamilton keeps it simple when talking about the skill that defines his career.

"If you're fast, you're fast," Hamilton said. "If you're not, you're not."

But when presented for the first time with the Statcast™ Sprint Speed leaderboard, the fastest man in baseball said that breaking down a player's speed to feet per second in their fastest one-second window is "pretty cool."

"I've never really dealt with time, never really cared about it," said Hamilton, who tops the leaderboard at 30.1 feet per second. "The way you explained it, it sounds pretty good. Never [had it broken down like that before]."

Statcast: Hamilton's elite speed

The average sprint speed on a "max effort" run is 27 feet per second, and max-effort runs range in resulting sprint speed from roughly 23 feet per second to 30 feet per second, which is Hamilton territory. A player must have 10 qualifying max-effort runs to make the leaderboard.

As Hamilton and the Reds take on the Rockies in a four-game series in Colorado that concludes on Thursday, there is a rookie in the other clubhouse who is fourth on the leaderboard, at 29.7 feet per second: Raimel Tapia, Colorado's No. 3 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, and the No. 76 prospect overall.

Tapia's sprint speed was on display in Monday night's 5-3 win over Cincinnati, when he led off the second inning with a triple inside the bag at first base. As the ball shot down the right-field line, he went from home to third in 10.94 seconds -- the third-fastest triple tracked by Statcast™ this season. Hamilton has the fastest triple this season, at 10.58 seconds, and the Twins' Byron Buxton -- who is second on the Sprint Speed Leaderboard at 30.0 feet per second -- was second among triple speeds at 10.73 seconds.

The Sprint Speed Leaderboard has enabled Tapia, a prospect who has appeared in 54 career MLB games and plays in a relatively small market, to gain recognition for a skill that had been difficult to measure before the introduction of Statcast™. While he can hit the occasional homer -- as he did for the first time at Coors Field on Monday -- Tapia's speed is his calling card.

"These lists are kind of a way for you to become, for lack of a better term, more famous as a player, because your name is out there," Tapia said through an interpreter. "And it's exciting, because if you're running fast and you're on this list, you're also helping your team win.

"Same thing with the defense, too. If you're accomplishing certain things on the defensive side, and you're getting your name out there, you're accomplishing something not just for yourself, but for your team."

Tapia put that perspective into practice in Tuesday, when he robbed Cincinnati's Eugenio Suarez of a hit to left field by making a four-star diving grab that had a 35 percent catch probability per Statcast™.

Tapia's diving catch

As he gets more and more opportunities to showcase the abilities that made him a top prospect in the Rockies organization, Tapia said the Sprint Speed Leaderboard definitely matters to him.

"It means a lot to be able to be compared with a player that I know is a really great player, and really fast," Tapia said of Hamilton. "It makes me want to keep working harder so I can be first on the list, to keep myself in that section with those players."

Hamilton has certainly taken notice of Tapia, though he's not surprised at what he's been seeing from the 23-year-old lately.

"I've been watching him for a while, not just this series," Hamilton said. "I watched him in Spring Training a lot, and he's one of those guys that's gonna be great. I love watching him play. He does things I like to see."

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.