First off, I should thank Kyle for asking me to write this guest post. I've watched nearly 2,400 home runs this year, and I rarely get a chance to highlight the Brewers when I do so. It's nice to talk a bit about them for a change.
For those who don't know me, I write a blog over at Wezen-Ball.com. I try to do a healthy mix of history, contemporary issues, and statistics on the blog, but the most popular feature is easily the Tater Trot Tracker.
The Tater Trot Tracker is a record of the time it takes major league ballplayers to run around the bases after hitting a home run. Using my lunch hour and a subscription to MLB.tv, I watch every home run hit in the league each day and clock the trot times. I record the times for posterity and then write a daily piece about the best, slowest, and quickest home runs hit during the day. At the end of each month, I also include a nice year-to-date piece about the state of home run trots in the league. When David Ortiz took more than 30 seconds to trot around the bases in late-May, or when Texas prospect Engle Beltre instigated a brawl during his walkoff home run trot, or when Baltimore's Luke Scott pulled a hammy and took over 35 seconds to round the bases on a go-ahead home run last month, the Tater Trot Tracker was there.
With the All-Star break upon us, and the Home Run Derby tonight - including our very own Corey Hart - it seemed like a great idea to take a look at the Brewers and their home run trots. I'd bet serious money that the accepted view of the Brewers and their one-two punch of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder is that the pair are two of the most cocky, showboating players in the league. But is that true? And, if so, which Brewer is the anti-Prince Fielder, running the bases his hardest? Can we, as casual baseball fans, really get a good sense of any of this?
With nearly 90 games played by each team, and ~2,500 home runs hit in the majors this year, the average home run trot is approximately 21.94 seconds. That counts from the moment the ball touches the bat to the moment the player touches home plate. Any posing or preening in the box, or any delays caused at home plate as the batter slows down to enjoy his moment in the sun (or thank God), are very much counted against the batter. It's the only way to be fair; otherwise, each and every home run trot would be a judgment call, and that doesn't make much sense.
So how does Milwaukee stack up? The Brewers average home run trot of 21.97 seconds ranks exactly 15th out of 30 teams. The fastest teams - the Reds and A's - have an average home run trot of 20.36 & 20.79 seconds respectively (this is helped immensely by players like Adam Rosales and Scott Rolen), while the slowest teams - the Royals and Angels - have an average trot time of 22.79 & 23.16 second respectively. It's no surprise, then, to see the Crew smack dab in the middle.
But with players like Braun and Fielder, who seem to rub everyone around the league the wrong way, how is that possible? After all, Cardinals and Giants fans would swear that those two are some of the worst, most cocky trotters in the game. If they're so bad, why aren't the Brewers lower in the average rankings? It's not like the two of them only make up a handful of home runs so far.
The truth is, Ryan Braun has a typical home run trot time of 22.04 seconds, barely slower than the average trot. Prince's average comes in at 22.5 seconds, only a hair slower than Braun. For comparisons sake, the slowest trotters in the game are David Ortiz (27.3 secs.), Bengie Molina (26.64 secs.), Juan Rivera (25.99 secs.), Carlos Lee (25.86 secs.), and Vlad Guerrero (25.79 secs.). The quickest trots belong to Adam Rosales (16.24 secs.), Andres Torres (17.83 secs.), Scott Rolen (18.27 secs.), Eric Patterson (18.29 secs.), and Michael Young (18.45 secs.).
Brewers players just aren't any competition for those extremes. The fastest average trot (for players who have three or more home runs so far this year) belong to Carlos Gomez (20.78 seconds) and, surprisingly, Jim Edmonds (20.13 seconds). On the slow end, we have - unsurprisingly - Yovani Gallardo (22.75 seconds) and Casey McGehee (22.8 seconds). Those individual average trots are hardly slower (if at all) then the slowest average teams. Whether this is praise for Brewers players, or an indictment of teams like the Royals and Angels is for you to decide. Personally, I like to err on the side of my favorite team...
But all of that is academic. What are the single fastest and slowest Brewers home run trots so far this year? Are the choices as obvious as they seem?
The second-fastest Brewers trot of the year came via Jim Edmonds, who ran out this July 3 shot in St. Louis in only 19.22 seconds. On the slow end, the second-slowest trot by a Brewer came on May 30, when Rickie Weeks ran his second home run of the night out in 25 seconds.
The fastest trot came on June 16 in Anaheim, when Carlos Gomez sped around the bases in only 17.29 seconds. That trot places him barely outside the top 10 quickest trots of the year, league-wide. Casey McGehee's Sunday night walkoff home run agains the Cardinals on April 11 comes in as the Brewers slowest trot of the year, clocking in at 25.66 seconds. It's slow, of course, but nowhere near the slowest trot of the year by others in the league.
Which seems to be how the Brewers roll. They are neither exceptionally fast nor exceptionally slow when it comes to home runs. There are a few home runs where someone might stand in the box to watch the ball sail away for a second or two too long, but they almost always make up for it when circling the bases.
For more information on home run trots - really, more information than you ever thought you could want, but you do - feel free to check out the Tater Trot Tracker. It's updated every afternoon with stats from the previous night, and will continue to be updated throughout the rest of the year. By then, there'll be no doubt who the quickest and slowest home run trotters are, and these silly debates about the worst showboatters in baseball will be over.
I hope you enjoy the stats. Now let's cheer on Corey and his not-gonna-ruin-my-swing swing in the Home Run Derby tonight. If only they had to run out their derby homers... *sigh*.