Atlanta Braves hitting trends: Dansby Swanson
Atlanta Braves fans have been waiting and hoping that Dansby Swanson finally breaks out and becomes the hitter we think he ought to be… something like .290 with an .820 OPS. That would be nice… but unfortunately a bit unrealistic.
To this point, Swanson’s fought personal demon pitches and debilitating injuries (wrist) while we all wonder if/when he will be able to put it all together.
Let’s see if the numbers tell us anything in that regard.
First off: pitch choices… what are opposing hurlers feeding Swanson?
- Since 2016, pitchers have been throwing marginally fewer to him:
- In 2016… 55%
- Down to 51% in 2019.
- Owing to Swanson’s struggles with these, pitchers had been sending him a steady diet: 25-26% overall.
- That changed in 2019 down to 19.6%, presumably because he stopped swinging at them so much. We’ll see that later.
- Hardly relevant. 4%, though up to 6.8% in 2019.
- Trending upwards: roughly 10% in 2016 rising to 12.7% last year.
- Also trending upwards: 4.5% in 2016, jumping to 7.7% in 2017… up to 8.6% last year.
BrooksBaseball.net describes Swanson The Hitter as having an above average likelihood to swing and miss. This is specifically about 2019… even after starting to lay off sliders out of the zone.
He’s a bit better against offspeed offerings, having a ‘very aggressive approach’ with a higher chance to whiff…. though that chance is more in line with league averages.
Here’s the fangraphs data:
- 2016 and 2017 were consistent in the 27-29% range… below the league average of roughly 30.7%.
- Swanson spiked upwards in a poor 2018 as a result of chasing sliders that were unhittable: a 36.5% OSwing percentage was evidence of this.
- In 2019, he returned to his prior average at 27.9%.
- While that could clearly be better, it is at least 2% better than his average peers.
- OContact%. So when he swings at wayward pitches, what happens?
- 2016-18: consistent numbers between 61.4 and 61.8%… even in 2018…
- He was still swinging at too many sliders then, and these numbers are below average for contact rates.
- 2019: a drop to 59.2%.
It is notable that the league makes contact with these wayward balls 4% better than Swanson… though it’s better that he isn’t swinging at them as often.
- 67.3% is the league average, but Swanson is trending better here.
- 2016: 63.5%… lowest of his career.
- This was followed by ever-increasing numbers… 66.6%, 68.7%, and 70.4%
That suggests better pitch recognition is happening, whether that being via trying to ‘ambush’ early strikes or simply not taking strikes as often. In any case, we like the trend.
- 85.6% is the average.
- Swanson had traditionally been out-pacing this number: 86.2, 87.1, and 86.2 in 2016-18.
- However… A drop to 82.5% in 2019 is concerning. This could be related to the increase in non-fastballs that he’s seeing.
More on these numbers and expectations for 2020…