Puerto Rico used to send scads of ballplayers into the majors. But starting in 1990 its players became subject to the major league draft, which many argue killed the incentives for teams to aggressively scout the island and for local baseball authorities to support training, the building of new facilities and the like.
This Associated Press story, however, notes that there is a revival afoot:
In the past year, Major League Baseball reported the second-highest number of signings from Puerto Rico since 2000. The U.S. territory also has seen the opening of new baseball academies and an expansion of its winter league teams … MLB plans to start tournaments and after-school programs across the island to further stimulate interest in the sport, said Kim Ng, the organization’s senior vice president for baseball operations.
Ng credits the Carlos Correa being the first pick in the draft this past year as evidence that things are looking up and credits his high draft position with reinvigorating the game in Puerto Rico.
Is it a fluke or is this the product of MLB’s investment in baseball on the island? Or something else? I dunno. But it’s good to see what was once a baseball hotbed starting to produce MLB-quality talent again.
We’re not talking the 100 meters here. We’re talking practical baseball sprinting. That’s defined by the StatCast folks at MLB as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window,” while sprinting for the purposes of, you know, winning a baseball game.
StatCast ranked all players who have at least 10 “max effort” runs this year. I won’t give away who is at the top of this list, but given that baseball’s speedsters tend to get a lot of press you will not be at all surprised. As for the bottom of the list, well, the Angels don’t pay Albert Pujols to run even when he’s not suffering from late career chronic foot problems, so they’ll probably let that one go. I will say, however, that I am amused that the third slowest dude in baseball is named “Jett,” however.
Lately people have noticed some odd things about home run distances on StatCast, suggesting that maybe their metrics are wacko. And, of course, their means of gauging this stuff is proprietary and opaque, so we have no way of knowing if their numbers are off the reservation or not. As such, take all of the StatCast stuff you see with a grain of salt.
That said, even if the feet-per-second stuff is wrong here, knowing that Smith is faster than Jones by a factor of X is still interesting.
All-Star voting ends this Thursday night, just before midnight eastern time. The All-Star teams — at least how they’ll appear before the dozen or two substitutions we’ll get before the game — will be unveiled on Sunday at 7pm on ESPN, just before Sunday Night Baseball.
Which means you still have time to alter these standings, which now stand as the final update before things are set in, well, not stone, but at least some Play-Doh which has been left out of the can too long and is kinda hard to mess with.