3 KC Royals that put up eye-catching numbers this spring

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
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Sam Long's 45.3% swinging strike rate

Non-roster invitee Sam Long barely has more than one year of MLB service time while bouncing around organizations. The lefty was ready to move on from baseball ahead of 2019, having been hip-deep in starting his EMT career. He was hardly a game-changing addition to the Royals' spring training roster. But, ever since Long joined the team on December 10, 2023, he has done nothing but impress.

Long was a strikeout machine in his 8 2/3 innings this spring. He struck out 15 batters while only walking one and allowing five hits. Ultimately, it all came down to a 1.04 ERA and 0.62 FIP against a normal level of spring training competition. But the truly impressive stat is Long's 45.3% swinging strike rate.

If you haven't heard of this stat, I can't blame you. It is another niche metric, but a valuable one when evaluating a pitcher's efficacy. Swinging strike rate (SwStr%) is a metric in baseball that measures the percentage of total pitches that result in the batter swinging and missing. We calculate it by dividing the number of swings and misses by the total number of pitches a pitcher throws.

Swinging strikes, unlike called strikes, rely solely on the pitcher's skill and the batter's decision to swing. That may seem simple but think about Long's rate like this: every time Long threw a pitch, it had nearly a 50/50 chance of making the batter swing and miss at the offering.

That, to me, is very impressive, no matter the level of competition. Long's 45.3% rate ranked as the third-best among spring training pitchers with at least five innings pitched. 627 pitchers reached that benchmark around MLB, but Long quietly had one of baseball's most dominant springs.

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