Just some stuff to ponder on an off-day. Numbers from FanGraphs:
O-Swing% (% of pitches outside the strikezone swung at): 29.4%, 13th in MLB
O-Contact% (% of time contact is made when swinging at pitches out of the zone): 65.5%, 17th in MLB
Z-Swing% (% of pitches inside the strikezone swung at): 64.0%, 17th in MLB
Z-Contact% (% of time contact is made when swinging at pitches in the zone): 89.1%, 3rd in MLB
Overall Swing%: 46.0%, 14th in MLB
Overall Contact%: 81.2%, 12th in MLB
F-Strike% (% of PAs that result in a first pitch strike): 64.3%, 1st in MLB
As we know, though, numbers can be pretty meaningless without some context. So what does all of the above mean in plain English?
So far, the Brewers have done a fairly good job of laying off pitches outside of the strike zone, but when they do swing at balls, they haven’t been good at actually hitting the ball when they do swing at those pitches. What they have been good at — really good at — is making contact on pitches that are strikes. Many people across the web have noted that the Brewers are one of the best fastball-hitting teams in the league, while falling well below average when it comes to hitting breaking pitches. It’s not a stretch to think that these numbers confirm those observations a bit.
I’ve mentioned on Twitter a few times that guys like Carlos Gomez have developed a bit of “fake patience” — they’re trying to avoid short at-bats, but they’re doing it by looking at a lot of hittable pitches in the zone and ultimately end up getting themselves out by chasing stuff out of the zone. For that reason, the fact that the Brewers are 17th in the majors when it comes to actually swinging at strikes and are 1st in the majors in seeing first pitch strikes shouldn’t be all that surprising.
I wouldn’t say these rates are a cause for concern just yet — for the most part, the offense has performed well considering it played most of April without two regular starters. What the numbers do seem to do, though, is confirm some of the complaints fans have had thus far.