Who are the Slowest Players in Baseball?

September 15, 2013
We have a pretty good idea who the fastest players in baseball are, in part because they rack up gaudy stolen base totals. However, the slowest players in baseball are less statistically conspicuous. For example, neither Colby Rasmus nor Joe Mauer has a steal this season, but it's clear in watching them that one is faster than the other.

This is another area where Baseball Info Solutions is now collecting information. Beginning this season BIS is recording times on various baserunning events, including from home to first on potential double plays and bunt-for-hit attempts, from first to third on singles, from second to home on singles, from first to home on doubles, and on stolen base attempts. In particular, home to first times on potential GDPs are a great way to measure the speed of players giving their maximum effort, especially ones like Joe Mauer who rarely attempt to steal a base.

Based on average home to first times on potential GDPs, these players are the slowest in baseball:


Average Times from Home to 1st
GDP Situations
(Minimum 3 Times)
Player Average Time (seconds)
Welington Castillo 4.84
Billy Butler 4.81
Paul Konerko 4.77
Edwin Encarnacion 4.67
Yorvit Torrealba 4.67


We were on the right track with Mauer who is quite slow at 4.40 seconds from home to first, but it is actually another catcher who tops this dubious list. Welington Castillo is having a tremendous season. He actually leads all catchers with 17 Defensive Runs Saved. However, he is certainly not fast. Neither are Billy Butler and Paul Konerko, who generate all of their value with their bats. Edwin Encarnacion, another powerful first baseman, and Yorvit Torrealba, another catcher, round out the list of the slowest players in baseball.


COMMENTS (10 Comments, most recent shown first)

I would love to see what Billy Hamilton's times are
8:04 AM Sep 26th
Flying Fish: That's right about Ortiz. It took my seeing him play in person to realize he's not really slow, because I had kept only hearing announcers say how slow he was. He's slower than average but I think not much.

About the disadvantage for righty hitters: It's more than just the slightly greater distance they have to run; in fact I think that's the lesser factor. I'd guess the bigger factor is that their swing takes their momentum away from 1st base rather than toward.

And don't forget that there's an additional factor for any kind of hitter (pardon the repetition from before) :-) ....how well they get out of their swing. I mentioned Rickey Henderson as someone who didn't. A couple of random guys that come to mind who do/did:
-- Stan Musial
-- Curtis Granderson, who I'd guess is among the fastest home-to-first.
12:34 AM Sep 17th
Kendrys Morales is the slowest man in baseball.
8:14 PM Sep 16th
Izzy: Ortiz has two triples so far this season. Have you watched him? He's big, but he's not slow. I mean not really slow like one player, I think Rob Deer, of whom Bill James once said he runs like a file cabinet.
7:56 PM Sep 16th
To give a sense of scale, it would be great to know what an average time is, and what the fastest times are. Agreed that this will be biased against RHB, but it's still interesting.

I could definitely see this as one aspect of an improved "speed score" - regardless of whether or not it tells us who would win a race, this is a 'functional' measurement - i.e. one that tell us about a skill that matters in a game. Even if it is biased against RHB, that's OK from the perspective that RHB on average do take longer to get to 1B, or 2B on a double attempt, etc.
7:47 PM Sep 16th
I'm surprised that Victor Martinez isn't on the list. Does he get some advantage because he often bats from the left side?
3:55 PM Sep 16th
This question is biased against right handed hitters, as right handed hitters have to go a few feet more to get to first.
This must be a home to 1st base distance, regardless of whether we are looking at times for both right & left handed hitters. It would be interesting to see both right & left handed hitters timed.

12:50 PM Sep 16th
I think it would be good to warn people not to take these data right here too far. Taken together with all the data that are to come, sure, we'll get a great idea of who are the slowest players, but we don't from this chart, because "home-to-first" numbers are too polluted with factors besides speed. Especially: whether a hitter is lefty or righty, and how well he gets out of his swing. For example, Rickey Henderson: I'm sure he got to 1st base faster than most, but probably not nearly commensurate with his speed, because he not only hit righty but also sort of screwed himself into a pretzel before getting started. Interesting data? Sure. Slowest players? Not yet.
12:52 AM Sep 16th
As someone who sees him a lot, I can report that Encarnacion is not exactly slow afoot - he's actually a pretty good baserunner who takes more than his share of his extra bases. But he does get a terrible break out of the batter's box - he swings very hard and he finishes his swing, and he loses a full step before he begins to head for first.
7:58 PM Sep 15th
I'm surprised Molina, Ortiz, and Napoli didn't make the list.
6:38 PM Sep 15th
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