MLB.com Columnist

Mike Petriello

Record-setting Rosales owns Statcast speed mark

Had fastest over-the-wall homer trot time of Statcast era on Sept. 24

Record-setting Rosales owns Statcast speed mark

Adam Rosales is a 33-year-old free agent, and he's had a decent if unremarkable run as a utility infielder in parts of nine seasons for the Reds, Rangers, A's and Padres. But no matter what happens to him for the rest of his career, he's got this going for him: He set a speed record previously held by Billy Hamilton.

You wouldn't think such a thing to be possible, because such a thing shouldn't be possible. Rosales has 16 stolen bases in a Major League career that dates back to 2008. Hamilton stole 16 bases in a span of 10 games in August. Rosales has been designated for assignment at least six times in his career. Hamilton is without question the game's pre-eminent speedster. Other than the fact they both play baseball, these two couldn't be more different.

So, what could Rosales have possibly done faster than Hamilton? To find out, let's go back to April, when Hamilton hit a homer off Jon Lester. He circled the bases in 16.2 seconds, setting the record for the fastest home-to-home time on an outside-the-park homer in the two seasons of Statcast™ tracking. That made sense. If there's a speed record, Hamilton (or at the very least, Byron Buxton or Dee Gordon) ought to own it.

Let's fast-forward to September, when Rosales was putting together a surprisingly powerful five-homer month. On Sept. 24, he crushed one off Madison Bumgarner and ran full-speed around the bases in 15.96 seconds. That's now the fastest. (For further context, the fastest inside-the-park "trot" time of 2016 was 14.05 by Buxton on Oct. 2, and when Tyler Naquin hit his memorable inside-the-park walk-off homer in August his time of 15.69 was barely faster than Rosales'.)

Adam Rosales' post-homer sprint

While it's true that the ball Rosales hit wasn't exactly a no-doubter that he could stare at before taking a leisurely jog around the bases, remember that this wasn't an isolated incident for him, either. There were 5,601 over-the-wall home runs in Major League Baseball in 2016, and he hit 13 of them. We tracked the home run trot time on nearly every single one of those thousands of homers. His slowest trot was still in the top 1 percent of all homer trot times. 

If you prefer lists -- and who doesn't? -- here's a list. No, we're not going to list all 5,601 dingers, tempting though that may be. This is just the top 11 fastest times, which is one-tenth of 1 percent of all those over-the-wall homers from 2016. Why 11? Because we want it to be. Anything stand out here?

Top 11 fastest home-to-home times on over-the-wall home runs, 2016

15.96 seconds -- Rosales, Sept. 24
16.2 seconds -- Hamilton, April 11
16.22 seconds -- Rosales, July 27
16.25 seconds -- Rosales, Sept. 25
16.3 seconds -- Rosales, July 15
16.33 seconds -- Rosales, April 19
16.53 seconds -- Rosales, Sept. 20
16.53 seconds -- Rosales, Sept. 5
16.56 seconds -- Rosales, April 27
16.67 seconds -- Rosales, June 13
16.94 seconds -- Rosales, Sept. 18

Rosales' relatively glacial 17.15 second trot on June 24 makes the top 15, too. You may have noticed that there's an "Aroldis Chapman filter" on our pitch velocity leaderboards, just because he dominates it so thoroughly that we need to let other names appear. This is kind of the same thing, because it's all Rosales, all the time. The fastest over-the-wall homer trot of the year that didn't come from Rosales or Hamilton was 17.12 seconds from Twins rookie Max Kepler in New York on June 26.

Adam Rosales catching up on the bases

So why does Rosales do it? Because doing it any other way would make him feel awkward, as he told MLB.com in August:

"Well," Rosales said, "that all started when I was a little kid. You know, I hit my first home run and I just kind of jogged around the bases. And I felt really awkward doing it, so the next time I hit a home run over the fence, I'm like, 'I'm just going to keep running like I hit a triple.' I just kind of kept sprinting around the bases, and I told myself if I ever made it to the Major Leagues or play professional ball, I would keep on doing that."

"Not wanting to feel silly" is motivation for most of humanity's greatest triumphs, and it works here, too. Is it going too far to say that in the same way that Chapman dominates the pitch-velocity leaderboards and Giancarlo Stanton crushes the exit-velocity leaderboards, Rosales stands alone in circling the bases at high speed? It is? Because this is a very entertaining thing that doesn't actually have any relevance to winning or performance? Well, fair enough.

Really, the most interesting thing here is less what Rosales has done and more about what it means for the future. Chapman and Stanton top those measures simply because no one is capable of doing what they do. Rosales may lead the league in hustle, but certainly not in pure speed. Surely, Hamilton or Buxton or dozens of other players could break Rosales' record next year. But will they? Will someone decide to go for it?

Now let's hope some enterprising team signs Rosales, if for no other reason to see if he tops his own mark. We all need more Adam Rosales in our lives.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.