Wednesday, May 22, 2024

What is Average Bat Speed in MLB? Exploring the latest advanced analytic from Statcast

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The modern era of MLB baseball is full of new and interesting statistics, and a brand new one just dropped: Average Bat Speed.

There’s more data than ever before in this sport, and statisticians can measure so many parts of the game. This has been used in various aspects of the game, like spin rate for pitchers and exit velocity for batted balls, but now it’s being put on how fast players swing the bat.

Average Bat Speed tracks how fast players swing the bat. Just watching the game will show that some players swing faster than others, and now there’s data to back that up. It’s a brand new stat, but it’s already revealed a lot about the sport.


Exploring what Average Bat Speed in MLB shows

Average Bat Speed can tell baseball fans a lot about the sport, including who swings hard the most. That player is, unsurprisingly, Giancarlo Stanton. The New York Yankees slugger swings hard more than everyone else.

Giancarlo Stanton swings hard almost every single timeGiancarlo Stanton swings hard almost every single time
Giancarlo Stanton swings hard almost every single time

A “hard swing” is 75 miles per hour or faster, which is also the average of a home run swing. This speed is where swings tend to produce positive run values. Anything faster is usually going to yield positive results, while anything slower makes it harder to succeed. Stanton reaches this speed on 98.4% of his swings.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Luis Arraez swings the slowest. His average swing speed is two miles per hour slower than the next-closest, which is Cleveland Guardians star Steven Kwan.

However, this is not to say that Arraez doesn’t have a good swing. In fact, his slow swing, and the same is true of Kwan, leads to a good squared-up rate. This refers to the quality of contact in a swing, which analytically breaks down to how fast a ball can travel based on the pitch velocity and swing speed.

Luis Arraez has a low Average Bat SpeedLuis Arraez has a low Average Bat Speed
Luis Arraez has a low Average Bat Speed

Despite the lower swing speed for these players, they square the ball up and provide quality contact very often because they prioritize barrel location over swing speed.

It’s just another example of how there are so many differing styles of offense that can work in the modern MLB.

Average Bat Speed is the latest great metric to prove that. Expect more analytics like this to come out in the near future.