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.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.