With rosters expanding yesterday the Rays called up speedster Desmond Jennings from Triple-A and started him in right field. They also had Carl Crawford in left field and B.J. Upton in center field, which has me wondering whether it could have been the fastest outfield in baseball history.
I’m not sure exactly how to measure such a thing, but I do know that it’d be tough to find three players with more collective speed than Crawford, Upton, and Jennings, let alone three speedier guys who all started together in the same outfield.
Crawford has the most triples (100) and second-most steals (403) in MLB since debuting in 2002, averaging 12 three-baggers and 50 stolen bases per 150 games while also ranking as one of the best defensive left fielders of all time. Upton is a very good defensive center fielder and has the sixth-most steals in baseball since becoming a regular in 2007, swiping 44 bases in 2008, 42 last season, and 37 so far this year. And Jennings might be faster than both of them, averaging 61 steals per 150 games in the minors.
They all have 50-steal speed, they all would be plus center fielders, and they were all in the same outfield last night in Tampa Bay. And they even have a good nickname, as Rays fans have taken to calling Crawford, Upton, and Jennings the “Stallionaires.”
I went to Baseball-Reference.com in search of some other incredibly speedy outfield trios and found that since 1920 just six teams have had three outfielders with 30 or more steals. Obviously that isn’t the definitive word on speedy trios, since Jennings and other call-ups like him wouldn’t crack the list and neither would part-time outfielders, but it does provide a good starting point for the discussion.
Here are the six 30-steal outfield trios:
YEAR TEAM OUTFIELDERS
2001 Mariners Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Cameron, Mark McLemore
1990 White Sox Lance Johnson, Sammy Sosa, Ivan Calderon
1988 Astros Kevin Bass, Billy Hatcher, Gerald Young
1985 Cardinals Vince Coleman, Willie McGee, Andy Van Slyke
1983 Braves Brett Butler, Claudell Washington, Dale Murphy
1983 Cardinals Willie McGee, David Green, Lonnie Smith
Lots of “speediest outfield of all time” possibilities there, for sure, but I really think there’s a decent chance the 14,859 fans at Tropicana Field last night may have seen some history made. Aside from the six outfield trios listed above, what are some other contenders for the title? Remember, the speedsters only need to have played in the same outfield for a single game to qualify.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.