|Photo shamelessly stolen from Ryan Howards |
Anyway, what we witnessed today was a rare treat, at least lately, and it deserves my attention. Whether or not it deserves your attention is your call, but if you're reading this, I'll assume it deserves your attention too.
Now I guess I wasn't being entirely truthful, because Ryan Howard did not "leg out" a triple. As you read the title of this post, you probably thought, "I bet some outfielder misplayed it." And you're right! Marcel Ozuna misplayed it. And not only did Marcel Ozuna misplay it, the centerfielder Justin Ruggiano also decided to lackadaisically throw the ball to the cutoff man, and Ryan Howard still almost got out.
I decided to time Howard's race to third with the stopwatch app on my phone, which I realize is not the best method, but it's the only method available to me without having to get up, so deal with it. For Ryan Howard to run from home plate to third base took approximately 12.4 seconds. For a full video, click here, because for some reason the MLB refuses to let me embed videos until a couple of days after games and my gif-maker can't handle videos longer than 10 seconds.
I was kind of curious if there was a major difference in speed between his last triple and his triple Wednesday afternoon, particularly because of his injury at the end of 2011 and how terrible he looked trying to run last year. So I looked up the video and timed the 2011 version of Howard at 12.2 seconds. Now that I have my data, I realize that I have absolutely no idea if a difference of 0.2 seconds is significant at all. Maybe that's a lot, or maybe it's not so much, so I thought I might compare him to an average runner hitting a triple.
I really don't know how long it takes the average runner to hustle out a triple, so I did some investigating. Rather, I asked Eric Longenhagen of Crashburn Alley (@longenhagen) to let me know of a few perfectly average runners. One name he came up with was Stephen Drew, a fellow lefty who already has three triples this year for the Red Sox. I watched videos of his triples, but only one of them required him to hustle all the way to the bag. I timed that triple at 11.3 seconds.
It's a real pain to find videos of players running out triples all the way to the bag. For the most part, they can coast in because there was a play at the plate, or the camera angle doesn't show the runner actually get to the bag. For this reason, I'm comfortable using 11.3 seconds as my average time, even though I probably shouldn't be.
So now we have some numbers. In 2011, Ryan Howard was .9 seconds slower than the average runner legging out a triple. Now, he's 1.1 seconds slower, an increase of 22.2%. That sounds like kind of a lot. I don't really know, because I have no qualitative knowledge to back my numbers up. The only thing I could qualitatively say with any degree of certainty is that Ryan Howard took longer to get to third base in 2013 than he did in 2011.
Congratulations on the triple, Ryan! If you ever hit another one, I'll probably time that one too.