Do you remember when you played little league, and there were always those few kids that were too small or too short to strike any sort of fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers?
Yeah, I don't remember them either.
I'm sure it's tough being the little guy on the diamond. I'm sure there is probably a fair amount of rationalization that goes on in the heads of those mini ballplayers to prove they belong on the team.
What's usually their saving grace, however, is in most cases they are known as the "hustlers" or the "speedsters" on the team. But in a few hard cases, they are neither.
And those chumps—at least in little league—usually rode the pine.
In MLB, there are a select few little guys that fit this exact description. They are short and small of stature, and don't run fast to boot! It's a cruel, cruel world, I know.
But they get the last laugh. They're still making millions of dollars while the rest of us 6'0"-plus lads are busy holding down regular jobs as pencil pushers and insurance salesmen.
Regardless, here's the top 10 slowest little guys in MLB today. God bless 'em, every one.
You know life is unmercifully cruel when your "celebrity" look-alike is the dude who played Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.
Well, the bad news doesn't stop there. Despite Aaron Miles' small, but, well... pudgy stature (5'8", 180), he has never been much of a speed demon, with just 30 career stolen bases in 932 career games.
Still, you can't feel too sorry for a guy who has carved out a pretty decent career for himself as a journeyman utility infielder with a career batting average of .281.
Okay, okay. So maybe it's difficult to qualify Freddy Sanchez as a "little guy." After all, he stands a full 6'0" and weighs in at 200 lbs even. Still, maybe it's the fact that he plays like a little guy (and I told myself 6'0", 200 lbs was the cutoff—so give me a break).
Anyway, if you buy the assertion that Freddy is a little guy (with a little-guy name—that, we should most certainly agree on), then you'll almost have to admit that he's one of the slowest in the game.
The 2006 NL batting champion has been a solid if somewhat unspectacular infielder for most of his career, but his speed is clearly not one of his greatest attributes, as evidenced by his 13 career stolen bases in 10 professional seasons.
Right, so, Gordon Beckham may be considered—in some circles—not a little guy, but he does only weigh 190 lbs. Anyway, these are professional athletes, people! They must be compared respectively to their peers.
In that case, Beckham is certainly one of the slower ones. While he has stolen 16 bases over the course of three years—which isn't a number that would suggest exceeding lethargy—he has also been caught 13 times. And in his rookie season, he grounded into 10 double plays in 378 at-bats.
Still, considering the small sample size, it's difficult to brand him as slow slow. Maybe just slow, for now, and we'll wait to see what he does down the line.
While one must acknowledge that Brandon Inge is both little and slow—and by "one," I mean "me"—one must also acknowledge that speed isn't really Inge's game.
His game is hitting home runs and striking out.
With that in mind, the 190-pounder may not be known for his blazing speed, but his 139 career home runs are nothing to scoff at. He prefers trotting around the bases, as opposed to stealing them.
Is Alberto Callaspo little? 5'9" 195 lbs. Check.
Is Alberto Callaspo slow? Well, he did ground into 22 double plays in 2010—good for fifth in the AL. Plus he has only stolen 18 career bases in six seasons.
Still, last year he went 8-for-9 in steal attempts, and one could argue that his 22 double plays in 2010 may have had something to do with the awful team he played for (the Kansas City Royals), and the fact that he's a contact hitter who doesn't strike out often.
Eh, whatever. Slow.
Look, I know I'm digging deep here. You may ask yourself: Who the heck is John McDonald?
And if you asked that, it's okay. But I should hope the more-than-casual fan has at least heard of the man. He's played 13 seasons in the major leagues, after all, and he needed a spot on this list at a mere 5'9" 180 pounds.
While his 33 career stolen bases are somewhat misleading considering the limited playing time he was allotted throughout his career, he still makes the list for his molasses-like legs now at age 36.
Omar Infante has got some wheels, okay. If you were to point to his 2004 and 2005 campaigns where he went a combined 21-for-28 in steal attempts, I'd grant your point.
But then I'd also point out that over the past six season, he's stolen just 20 bases and has been caught 12 times.
Oh, and don't try to point to his eight triples last year as further evidence of his tremendous wheels. You and I both know the ridiculous power alleys and gaps at Sun Life Stadium breed those kinds of inflated numbers—especially when you consider that Infante collected just eight triples in the previous four seasons when he wasn't playing in a ridiculous bin like Sun Life.
Mike Fontenot is the littlest of the little at 165 pounds. Maybe the guy should've considered life as a middleweight boxer.
As for his baseball exploits, like John McDonald, Fontenot's stolen bases are a poor indicator of his real speed as most of his career has been played out in limited roles.
Still, his 17 career stolen bases in 535 games suggest he wouldn't be burning up the basepaths even if he was getting regular playing time.
Now we come to the slowest of the slow. ...that's why I put them last.
Throughout Skip Schumaker's career, the St. Louis Cardinals have used him mostly as a leadoff hitter—though one should not make the mistake that they've placed him there due to his blazing speed.
Quite the contrary, he's there presumably because he is a middle infielder who has a career .306 batting average against right-handers, and knows how to take a walk.
But a speedster, he is definitely not. Nineteen career stolen bases and nine career triples suggest as much.
Placido Polanco has put together a very nice career. His .301 career batting average, 1,966 career hits and excellent defensive aptitude all point to why he has been considered the best No. 2 hitter in the league over the past few years.
And while he has stolen more than 10 bases twice in his long career and has accumulated 79 career stolen bases, he has lost more than just a step due to injury and age (35).
Also, his 179 career GIDPs suggest he was never much of a burner, anyway.
But hey, with his career credentials, who cares if he's not the biggest or fastest?
So what does all this analysis boil down to? Well, the truth is: I don't know—not much.
But how great would it be to see all these pint-sized slowpokes in a foot race? All of them stretching out their 5'8" frames, their little legs and arms pumping wildly as they run nose to nose. It would be a sight to behold.
I'd put my money on Alberto Callaspo, and this is how I would see the race panning out:
10: John McDonald
9: Aaron Miles
8: Freddy Sanchez
7: Brandon Inge
6: Placido Polanco
5: Skip Schumaker
4: Mike Fontenot
3: Omar Infante
2: Gordon Beckham
1: Alberto Callaspo
Take it to the bank, boys! What you got?