No player in Major League Baseball is faster than Phillies center fielder Roman Quinn.
He’s been one of the best pure speed threats for the entirety of his professional career when healthy and he’s gotten even faster in 2020. He’s clocking in at 30.4-feet-per-second in average sprint speed, up from 30.1 in 2019 and good for the best sprint speed in all of baseball. To Quinn, it’s a “pretty cool stat” but does he really feel like the fastest man in baseball?
“It’s hard to say because I’m out there trying to play the game. I really don’t think about it,” Quinn told the media before Wednesday’s game against the Washington Nationals.
In the midst of speaking to reporters about his speed, Quinn also reflected on the idols he had growing up. He’s a big fan of the best Phillies base stealer of the last 120 years.
“I was a really big fan of Jimmy Rollins,” Quinn said. “I love his all-around game, being a switch hitter. Also, the way he played shortstop. He played it with so much swag.” Quinn also mentioned one of Rollins’ archenemies as another idol of his: longtime New York Mets shortstop José Reyes.
In his 17-year MLB career, Rollins finished in the top 10 in stolen bases 12 times and led the league in that category in his first All-Star season in 2001. He’s third on the Phillies all-time list in triples, second in stolen bases, and first in doubles.
Rollins did not play the majority of his career in the Statcast era, so his pure speed will never be adequately quantified in the same the way Quinn’s speed is today. However, traditional statistics and the eye test suffice when evaluating Rollins’ legacy as a baserunner.
Quinn’s chances of approaching Rollins’ career numbers as a base stealer are remote at best. However, Quinn can wreak havoc on the basepaths in the same way Rollins did when he was in his prime. Both can leg out an infield hit, turn a single into a double or a double into a triple and can easily take a bag to set up a key scoring opportunity.
As the years go by, Quinn’s also learning how to best use his speed. With more playing time, he’ll find himself with more opportunities to manufacture runs for the Phillies in 2020.
“I feel like my whole nine years that I’ve been with the Phillies, I’ve been learning and I’ve been growing. To know different situations and when to use my speed, whether that’s a bunt or a stolen base or just like [Tuesday night] with the infield being in. Knowing that you’re going on contact and trying to beat the ball to home plate.”
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