Myles Straw is pure chaos.
This past Monday against the Royals, Straw collected three hits during the first game of a doubleheader. Three hits are always good, and always a feat to celebrate. For a player like Straw, not blessed with the power of a Franmil Reyes or José Ramírez, it takes a bit of extra finesse to make it happen.
Specifically, one of those hits was this infield single:
I saw this happen, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. First, it’s the fact that, off the bat, it looks like a pretty solid hit. The fun of that behind-the-pitcher camera angle makes anything coming back up the middle look like some kind of screamer, and Straw’s ball was no different — like it was coming into my living room. Looking at the numbers though, that was everything a screaming liner isn’t (69 mph off the bat and a 10-degree launch angle) and yet he turned it into a hit.
Here’s a chart of every batted ball this year that has those marks:
As you’ll notice, they’re on the infield, and for the most part, they’re outs. Numbers like that, it seems like it shouldn’t be even hard enough to get out of the infield of its own accord, but either way, it’s not especially impressive. In real terms, that’s a .286 batting average, nine points higher than the mark Straw has since coming to Cleveland, but far from a particularly flashy number. And yet, it counts as a single, and more than that, he was safe by baseball’s version of a country mile.
In a vacuum, that’s not all that wig-flipping. He probably got lucky to place the ball in just the right spot on the field, and maybe Whit Merrifield didn’t get quite enough on the ball, but even with all that, he got down the line so goddamn fast — it’s just something I’m not particularly used to.
Like, here’s a similar batted ball from noted speed demon Amed Rosario:
Now, luck has a bit to do with it — Jorge Polanco was in a better position — but even with that Rosario was a solid three steps slower than Straw down the line. Or so it seemed.
It’s kind of wild when you start looking at other hitters, too. Here’s noted non-speed demon Franmil Reyes, giving himself full seconds more time to get down the line because the ball is hit slower and he hits into a double play:
He’s not even near the base! You could fit a whole other Franmil in that space and still be able to squeeze in a delicious Italian cold cut sandwich, length-wise. Reyes is, again, not fast — just the 32nd percentile in sprint speed compared to Straw’s 95th — but seeing it in action like that is always surprising. These are elite athletes in some respect or other, all things considered, and this difference in speed can be staggering to contemplate.
This speed at the top of the lineup is honestly really fun. Rosario actually charts higher than Straw in sprint speed, but either way, having these two screamers to start a game is a nice beginning to any rally. Backing that with a top ten bat in Ramírez, then massive power from Reyes and Bobby Bradley, there’s a very real thought process here, and something very special starting to fall together.
There are still issues down the lineup — it would be nice to have a catcher that can actually hit better than a pitcher for once — but Straw is, for his role, a perfect table-setter. We all want him to start lacing doubles around the park, but if he’s dribbling his way to singles and working walks, then stealing bases and going first to home, who cares?
Action, havoc, and pressure. That’s what he represents in this lineup. What’s not to love about that?