The power-speed player serves as a powerful weapon to a baseball team. He possesses both the ability to hit one out of the ballpark, potentially turning the tide of a game, as well as the skills needed to swipe a base in a crucial situation. To analyze power-speed capabilities, I developed PS and PS+. PS is a simple sabermetric statistic that combines a player’s home run total with his stolen base total, such as 47 PS for a player with 26 home runs and 21 stolen bases. PS+ then denotes the player’s inclination toward power or speed with either a P+ or an S+ — the letter is contingent on if a player has more home runs or stolen bases — following the absolute value of the difference between a player’s home run and stolen base totals. Below are the top six players in PS and PS+ this season as of August 8, as well as those who just missed the cut.
Carlos Gomez (40 PS/6 S+) — Gomez has continued his breakout surge from last season this year, hitting 17 home runs and stealing 23 bases through 106 games. He has been a young, dynamic outfielder that the Brewers will have under club control through 2016.
Giancarlo Stanton (37 PS/17 P+) — Coming off two injury-affected seasons in which he played 123 and 116 games, respectively, Stanton has stayed healthy for all of 2014 and is on pace to match his career-high of 37 home runs. He also has recorded 10 stolen bases for Miami, which is simply icing on the cake from the Miami superstar.
Mike Trout (37 PS/13 P+) — 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases in his rookie year. 27 home runs, 33 stolen bases in his sophomore campaign. One AL ROY and two near-misses to the AL MVP in his first two Major League seasons. Simply put, Mike Trout is a monster, and he’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Todd Frazier (37 PS/3 P+) — After hitting 19 homers in each of the past two seasons and stealing a total of nine bags over that time span, Frazier has broken out this season for Cincinnati, hitting 20 home runs and swiping 17 bases in only 114 games.
Brian Dozier (37 PS/1 P+) — After posting a 32 PS/4 P+ stat line in 2013, Dozier has taken his game to the next level this season, becoming more evenly balanced in terms of his home run/stolen base splits (19 HR/18 SB) and being named to his first All-Star game.
Jimmy Rollins (37 PS/7 S+) — J-Roll has defied time in his age 35 season, hitting 15 balls out of the park and stealing 22 bases. Since he has totaled at least 1,100 plate appearances between his 2013 and 2014 seasons, his $15 million option with the Phillies for 2015 is guaranteed, but the Phillies may have very well picked it up anyway given Rollins’s strong offensive output this season.
- Andrew McCutchen (PIT-OF) — 34 PS/0 PS+
- Charlie Blackmon (COL-OF) — 34 PS/8 S+
- Brett Gardner (NYY-OF) — 33 PS/3 S+
- Ian Desmond (WAS-SS) — 30 PS/6 P+
- Paul Goldschmidt (ARI-1B) — 28 PS/9 P+
The ideal power-speed player has a high PS and a PS+ close to, or at, zero, meaning that he would have elevated totals of both home runs and stolen bases. A high PS+ amount and a low PS rating indicates a more one-dimensional player, which would not benefit a ball club very much unless he hits for a high average or is very prolific in that one skill on a part-time basis, such as a pinch-runner or a pinch-hitter who relies solely on his power. PS/PS+ shines a new light on some of baseball’s greatest stars as well as those who are under appreciated by the modern fan.
NOTE: Bill James developed a sabermetric statistic known as PSN, which stipulates:
Upon completion of this article, I found that Mr. James created the statistic, and I felt it was only apt that I gave credit where it was due, for he developed the statistic far before I did. Here is Bill James’s website, and here is a Wikipedia article detailing his version of the “Power-Speed Number.”
Long live baseball.
Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells are currently leading the Yankees to a 10-8 record and 2nd place in the AL East. Please take the time to reread that last sentence, and when you do, keep in mind that this is 2013, not 2008. Youkilis, a former Red Sox; Hafner, an oft-injured swing-for-the-fences hitter; and Vernon Wells, a seven-year, $126 million bust, are leading the Yankee offense (with a little help from a guy named Robinson Cano). Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson are all injured, therefore, someone had to step up to the plate, literally. Take a look at these numbers:
Through 16 games:
Kevin Youkilis: .295 BA/2 HR/9 RBI
Travis Hafner: .319 BA/5 HR/10 RBI
Vernon Wells: .317 BA/5 HR/8 RBI
However, the real question is whether these reborn sluggers can keep up the pace. Both Hafner and Wells have nose-dived off a cliff in terms of production the past couple of years, and Youkilis has seemingly been on the decline since the trade to the White Sox at the Trade Deadline last year. Regardless, watching these elder statesmen attempt to recapture their former glory should be an entertaining endeavor, and one that could potentially result in a championship for the New York Yankees.
Travis Hafner has as many stolen bases as Brett Gardner. Just saying.