July 4, 2012
Tater Trot Tracker
Hanley Ramirez Breaks the 30-second Barrier
Oh, the things you miss when you go on vacation...
On June 3, Hanley Ramirez hit a home run off of Philadelphia's Joe Blanton, a leftfield wall-scraper that gave the Marlins an early 2-0 lead. It was his third home run in two games, and Ramirez looked to be off to a great start to the month. Miami's television announcer even allowed himself to dream aloud during the trot: "Let's see - Giancarlo was the player of the month in May and Hanley is off to a hot start in June..."
The 25.64 second trot, while still the slowest of the day that Sunday afternoon, was Ramirez's second-fastest trot of the year, behind only a 24.89 second on May 7. Things really were looking good for the Miami third baseman. Over the rest of the month of June, however, Ramirez would play in 22 more games and come to the plate 95 times. In those plate appearances, the slugger batted .217 with four extra base-hits. It wasn't until Sunday, July 1, exactly four weeks after his last home run, that Ramirez finally connected for another long ball. And, boy, what a doozy.
The ball (this time hit off of Philadelphia's Antonio Bastardo) cleared the giant leftfield fence at Marlins Park, landing in the popular Clevelander club, but it was Ramirez's stroll around the bases that was most impressive.
Ramirez watched the flight of the ball from home plate with his typical panache as it took roughly 6.24 seconds to finally clear the fence. On May 26, when Bryce Harper set the pace with the quickest trot of the year, he touched second base in 8.21 seconds. On Sunday, Ramirez touched first base at nine seconds, well on his way to a typically slow 26-27 second trot. Sunday's trot was anything but typical, however. Whereas most trotters will maintain some kind of reasonable speed once they get going, Ramirez did no such thing. At 17 seconds, he was a few steps past second base (more than 30 trots in 2012 have been completed in the 17-second range). At 22 seconds—the length of an average major league tater trot—Ramirez finally rounded third, setting the pace for a 28-29 second trot.
But he didn't stop there. No, he waited until he was just about home before he did that, dropping from the slow "Hanley jog" we all know so well into a straight-up walk. When he finally took his third and final step onto home plate, 30.3 seconds had elapsed on his tater trot. It's the first non-injury related half-minute trot since David Ortiz managed a 30.59 second trot on May 24, 2010, and only the second one ever recorded by the Tater Trot Tracker. Like Ortiz, Ramirez has never been known as a speedy trotter, but it took something special for each to break the barrier. For Papi, it was avoiding an umpire on a ball down the line. For Hanley, it was pent-up energy from a month-long build-up of no home runs.
In either case, breaking the 30-second barrier was much more thrilling than it had any right to be. I can't wait for the next one.
Click here for the ongoing 2012 Tater Trot Tracker Leaderboard. See also: the 2011 Tater Trot Tracker Leaders and the 2010 Tater Trot Tracker Leaders. You can also follow @TaterTrotTrkr on Twitter for more up-to-the-minute trot times.