Stats and the 2017 Kansas City Royals: The Not-Good
Being from the Deep South, I have a ton of folksy colloquialisms at my disposal, and with this stat I’m honored to share one with you:
Two farmers are standing near a fencepost, talking. One looks at the sky and says to the other, “Do you think it’s gonna rain today?”
“It’s 50-50,” the second farmer replies.
That causes the first farmer to look back at the sky. He’d asked the question as a polite nothing, the sort of question southerners ask because we ask them—“How’s your mama? Y’all gonna be at church on Sunday? Think it’ll rain?”—and seldom expect a response beyond “Fine. Of course. It might.” There were no clouds in the sky. It hadn’t rained in days.
“What makes you say that?” the first farmer pressed.
“Because it’s always 50-50,” the second replied. “It either will rain or it won’t.”
It’s meant to be the sort of thing we hillbillies say, either in the manner of cornpone wisdom or to poke fun at the idea of predicting anything. But it makes a ton of sense regarding these Kansas City Royals. That’s because these Royals have a dubious distinction—at 51.0 percent swing rate, the Royals would be the ONLY TEAM SINCE 2002 TO SWING AT MORE THAN 50 PERCENT OF PITCHES SEEN.
Watching the game, it doesn’t seem like the Royals take more hacks than your average team. Sure, they swing a little more than some of their contemporaries, but as baseball continues to trend toward a “Three True Outcomes” model, teams will naturally begin to be more aggressive.
Since FanGraphs doesn’t keep track of this beyond 2002, I am sort of hamstrung on what I can research. If you know where I can search pre-2002 stats, let me know, but I think that’s burying the lede a little bit. The Royals swing half the time. Incredible.