The fastest man in baseball is a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Outfielder Tim Locastro has overtaken Billy Hamilton and others as the game’s premier speedster.
When Billy Hamilton arrived in the MLB, he challenged the status quo and pushed the limit of how bad of a hitter can a productive player be with elite defense and base running. Hamilton’s success paved the way for guys with 80-grade speed to be drafted and given a shot to become the next Hamilton.
One direct beneficiary was Tim Locastro, who was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 13th round out of Division 3 Ithaca College in New York. Locastro was traded from Toronto to the Dodgers where he made his MLB debut and got designated for assignment.
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Locastro eventually ended up with the Arizona Diamondbacks and had a good showing in 2019 which was his first real big-league opportunity. He hit .250/.357/.340 for a 91 wRC+ and 0.9 fWAR as an outfielder. Locastro also lit up the Statcast Sprint leaderboards with his electric speed to become the fastest man in baseball.
Let’s start with the obvious qualifier, sprint speed. Locastro sits alone at the top of the leaderboard at a blistering 30.8 feet/second. His 4/10 of a second lead over every other hitter might seem minuscule, but then think about how many bang-bang plays require that extra few moments.
Another area where Locastro demonstrates his speed can be found in his home to first time. He holds the second-fastest time at 3.94 seconds with Marlins OF Magneuris Sierra the top at 3.93. An important separator is the fact that Sierra is left-handed so he has less distance to travel. Castro has to take 2-3 extra steps and he is still within .01 of Sierra which is incredibly impressive.
Onto the traditional measure of speed, stolen bases! Locastro stole 17 bases in 2019 which was the 28th best mark. At first glance, that doesn’t sound all that impressive considering the leader was Mallex Smith at 46. Look a little deeper though, you can see that Locastro stole 17 bases in only 250 plate appearances. If you take out Jon Berti, who is interesting on his own, all the other top base stealers had hundreds more plate appearances and opportunities. On a rate basis, Locastro was the best base stealer in all of baseball last year.
Locastro will probably be used as a fourth outfielder this year with Starling Marte, David Peralta, and others in the fold. If the Arizona Diamondbacks make the playoffs, expect Locastro to be aggressively used to make pitchers uneasy and get crucial runs. Speed thrills and Locastro has plenty of it.