How Vital is Speed- Really?

In baseball just as in so many other sports, speed is an asset that can be essential to winning. From base running to outfielders running down well-hit balls, that it's a commodity much to be desired is undeniable

. The Dodgers certainly have a rich legacy in this area. There's Maury Wills, who revived the art of basestealing and led a group who brought it to its nirvana. Was there ever anybody faster to play the game than Willie Davis? And speed was one of the many assets that Jackie Robinson used so well.

And yet for all that, swiftness in and of itself is not an item particularly sought after when it comes to choosing potential stars. In drafting, for example, it's treated much the way kickers are in the NFL selection process. There's no need to waste an early pick on it, there'll be good ones still available later on in the process.

Adam Godwin,for example, was the NCAA stolen base king in 2005. The Dodgers picked him up in the 11th round of that year's draft. Trayvon Robinson, is another with exceptional speed; he came the the 10th round of that same draft.

This year Frenchman Jeris Bert was considered the fastest yet he was still available when they finally got around to calling his name in the 17th round. Ryan Rogowski has been the best of the base stealers in the organization for the past two years. He didn't get drafted at all but, rather, was signed as a free agent.

Often the top guns in this area come into the organization after having kicked around the minors- guys like Alex Requena and Todd Donovan, who did their thing, then departed.

Latin players can contribute most prominently here. Jovanny Rosario is arguably the quickest player in the organization yet you don't see his name up high on the list of the better prospects, though if he can keep hitting the way he did this season with Ogden that might change.

For in and of itself, it doesn't seem that pure speed is going to get a player to the big leagues in a rush. Combine it with power, on the other hand, and you have a Matt Kemp- somebody to covet.

In the meantime, they keep working with Robinson, who they hope has some of the assets that have carried Juan Pierre so far. And, come to think of it, Pierre's been the best base stealer the Dodgers have had since Davey Lopes and he has just as many detractors as backers. Maybe more.

See what I mean?

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