A quick baseball player is more valuable than any other type of baseball player. Quick players make outs less while they're on offense and make outs more while they're on defense, and outs ultimately translate to a team's success.
Quick players also score more runs on offense and prevent more runs on defense, and runs are the second-most important thing to a team's success.
No one has demonstrated this better than Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners. Ichiro's long streak of Gold Glove awards, All-Star Game appearances, 200-hit seasons and high stolen base totals are all due to this quickness.
Here are the 15 quickest players in the MLB right now.
Jacoby stole home. Against the Yankees. What else needs to be said?
(Skip to 1:05 for the steal.)
Carl Crawford has been stealing absurd amounts of bases since his earliest days with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He's bulked up a little bit since then, and as a result, increased his power output, but he's still one of the most agile players in the league.
Victorino slides into one of his MLB-leading 16 triples of 2011.
The triple is one of the best demonstrations of speed—only the best baserunners can frequently stretch a double intro a triple.
His first major league home run was an inside-the-parker...
Matt Kemp was one home run away from a 40/40 season.
The 40/40 Club: Jose Canseco(*), Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Alfonso Soriano. That is what I call elite company.
Jimmy Rollins has been a huge asset for the Philadelphia Phillies since he started with them in 2000. He has stolen at least 20 bases in all 12 seasons except for 2010. He also had 20 triples in 2007. And he hits for power.
You'd think the Phillies might be fighting harder to get him back for 2012.
BJ Upton is averaging 40 swiped bags a year and a .988 fielding percentage in the outfield. He's the type of guy I was talking about in the introduction—he uses his speed in all aspects of his gameplay.
It almost looked like he was going to take flight there at the end of the clip.
Maybin was explosive this year on the basepaths and in the field. He's a rising star to keep an eye on in the future, and he might not be with the San Diego Padres next year, as contract extension negotiations between Maybin and the Padres have stalled, according to The North County Times.
Coco Crisp hasn't always been a huge base stealer, but he's always been a dangerous presence in the outfield. Crisp is one of the best outfielders in the league at covering his zone.
This year, he got the green light a lot more, and it paid off for the Oakland Athletics. He converted 49-of-58 tries for one of the best success rates among the top bagswipers.
In my opinion, Willie Bloomquist has always been an underrated utility player with exceptional speed. He played with the Seattle Mariners for a while, filling in wherever needed, always exhibiting his speed. Now, he's a key part of the Arizona Diamondbacks playoff team.
Bloomquist reminds me of Dave Roberts from the 2004 Red Sox team. He's called upon in high pressure situations to make things happen, and he's reliable. His speed certainly contributes to that.
Juan Pierre's walk-up song features Jay-Z rapping: "I used to run base like Juan Pierre." Jay-Z may not be referring to the same base that Pierre runs, but he at least appreciates Pierre's speed on the basepaths.
Brett Gardner is one of the newer players to the MLB speed show. Since his arrival in 2008, he's averaged 48 stolen bases per 162 games. Gardner is the type of player you don't always see on the Yankees—he's homegrown and not paid very much. That's going to change soon.
Michael Bourn led the MLB in SB in 2011 with 61. He won two consecutive Gold Gloves in 2009 and 2010 in center field and is looking to earn his third straight this year.
Also notable: Bourn's replacement in Houston at CF was Jason Bourgeois who stole 31 bags in just 93 games.
Photo Courtesy of rotoprofessor.com
Jose Reyes is revered around the league for his dangerous speed on the basepaths.
He fought injury earlier this year but was able to overcome it and put up another year of fantastic numbers including 39 stolen bases in just 126 games. This was an obvious deviation from his normal output, but hopefully, he'll remain healthy going into 2012 (most likely with a new team).
Ichiro Suzuki perennially leads the league in his specialty—infield hits. He also has the only inside-the-park-home-run in All-Star Game history. He has also won a Gold Glove every year.
The greatest leadoff hitter of the modern age is finally beginning to show the signs of age, but he was still able to steal 40 bases in 2011, most of them coming in the last two months. Since the Mariners were essentially out of contention at the All-Star break, manager Eric Wedge took more chances, and Ichiro showed he's still got some juice left.
Hopefully, Ichiro can bounce back from a mediocre season in 2011 and return to 200-plus hits and 100-plus runs.
Ultimately, we can't really quantify who the quickest player in the league is, so here are other notably fast players in the league: