Let’s look at swing data.
Instead of the usual performance statistics like wOBA and OPS, let’s look at some more fundamental measures. Definitions of each measure follow:
- Swing Efficiency is balls put in play divided by swings. It does not address whether balls put in play were hits or outs. The data was from Baseball Reference.
- Exit Velocity is the speed at which the ball leave the bat. The average exit velocities were from a Baseball Savant search which excluded bunted balls.
- Hard Hit % is batted balls with exit velocity of at least 95 MPH divided by batted balls. I did not find whether Baseball Reference’s calculation excluded bunted balls.
- Line Drive % is batted balls with a launch angles between 10 and 25 degrees divided by batted balls. Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, and Baseball Savant don’t seem to always agree on line drive percentage. For consistency with hard hit data, line drive data came from Baseball Reference.
- HRs per PA is home runs divided by plate appearances. Data was from Baseball Reference.
The following table shows statistics for the Diamondback batters. Green means that statistic was above the league average. The league and team averages are at the bottom of the chart. The blank spots show that Kelly and Herrera have not yet hit a homer.
What types of batters are the Diamondbacks?
The following Venn diagram shows which characteristics are above the league average. This season, the Diamondbacks have many different types of batters.
However, there are no batters who are swing efficient with high percentages of hard hits and line drives. Ketel Marte comes closest - he is only lacking a line drive percentage above the league average and that line drive percentage is very close to league average.
How did their swings rank?
For each criteria when a batter is above league average he is awarded points. The batters will then be ranked on total points. The criteria and point values follow:
- Swing Efficiency, 40 points.
- Hard Hit %, 15 points.
- Home Runs per PA, 15 points.
- Average Exit Velocity for Home Runs, 5 points
- Line Drive %, 15 points.
- Average Exit Velocity for Line Drives, 10 points.
The following table shows the scores in rank order.
Christian Walker’s swing score led the Diamondbacks. He is a more multi-dimensional batter than many fans give him credit for.
It may be surprising that Christian Walker leads the team because this season his .201 BA and .297 OBP are close to the Bob Uecker’s lines of .200 and .293. Nevertheless, my view is he has the best swing.
It’s likely that Christian Walker’s batting statistics (such as OBP and wOBA) will improve in the last half of the season. Two reasons follow:
- This season, only 4 batters have underperformed their xwOBA by more than Christian Walker underperformed his xwOBA per this FanGraphs article. That article points out that his BABIP is unsustainably low at .180 and statcast data indicates his BA should be .275.
- I believe that Christian Walker has a fundamentally great swing (based on swing efficiency, hard hit %, Home Runs per PA, and line drive exit velocity).
The second and third best swings are Alek Thomas and Ketel Marte. Their excellent performances (each has an OPS+ of 121) confirm that their swings are great.
What’s up with Daulton Varsho? His OPS+ is 108 while his swing score is low. His averages for swing efficiency, hard hit %, and line drive %, are all very close to league averages. His low score really reflected the binary nature of the swing score calculation (all the points for above the league average and no points for below the league average). My view is that not later than next season he will make small improvements in each area and will move to a top swing score.
Although he had too few PAs to be ranked, what would Buddy Kennedy have scored?
Based on his first 11 PAs, his swing would have ranked as the second best. That’s impressive! His grans slam was impressive. Nevertheless, only players with at least 60 PAs were ranked.
Six batters have superior swings: Christian Walker, Alek Thomas, Ketel Marte, Jake McCarthy, Josh Rojas, and David Peralta. Daulton Varsho is near league average in each characteristic and is expected to have a superior swing by next season. In his first 11 PAs, Buddy Kennedy shows promise of a superior swing.