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Takin' Their Time
Speed and sloth combine in a seamhead’s unlikely yet surprisingly popular obsession.

*Averages taken from players with a minimum of two home runs as of May 22, 2013.
Gallardo photo by Ben Smidt; Ramirez, Segura and Gomez photos by Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers Photos.

This summer, millions of baseball fans at ballparks across the country will look skyward as they watch another “moon shot” get up and get outta here. But a Marquette University data coordinator, stopwatch in hand, will turn his attention away from the flight of those tape-measure shots to clock the home run hero’s stride toward home – down to the hundredth of a second.

Hear more about this story on WUWM’s “Lake Effect” July 24 at 10 a.m.
Since Opening Day of the 2010 season, Larry Granillo has tracked how long it takes hitters to circle the bases, and he’s entered that information into the Tater Trot Tracker (tatertrottracker.com). It strives to time every round trip resulting from every Major League Baseball home run, starting at the moment the bat strikes the ball and stopping when the player’s cleats touch home plate.

“It occurred to me that all of that [information] was available,” Granillo says. “If someone took the time to, they could watch every home run. I decided if it was really hard after a week or two, I’d stop.”

He hasn’t. Using either a stopwatch or a timer on his computer, Granillo spends part of his lunch breaks, evenings and weekends documenting the previous day’s “taters,” using highlights to time the “trots.” Most players, he discovered, take between 20 and 24 seconds to complete the circuit, but it’s the occasional outlier who captures Granillo’s attention.

In 2010, sluggish Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz registered the first trot in excess of 30 seconds, which caught the attention of popular sports blog Deadspin and print media outlets in Boston and Tampa Bay (where Ortiz took his … saunter).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Granillo has timed inordinately quick 15- to 16-second dashes, whether it’s an inside-the-park homer or the product of a speedy player’s sprint. Some of the most rapid round trips come from Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. “Most days of the week, you’re not going to find anything all that interesting,” he says. “But when [Washington Nationals outfielder] Bryce Harper or Carlos Gomez hits one, and you see that he decided to run out of the box really fast, it’s exciting. Seeing 10,000 to 15,000 home runs the past few years, the summers can get a little long, but I still like doing it. I still want to be around for that day something really exciting happens.”
This article appears in the July 2013 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
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