KC Royals: 2 truths, 1 lie about Bobby Witt Jr.
By Jacob Milham
Claim #3: Bobby Witt Jr. struggles against the fastball most.
Pitchers threw more four-seam fastballs at Witt in 2022 than any other pitch. The reasoning makes sense: trying to take advantage of a free-swinging rookie behind the count in certain situations It was an effective decision, as evident by Witt's .227 batting average and 24.2 put-away percentage. Witt excelled against sliders and curveballs during 2022, but both were cancelled out by how badly he struggled against fastballs.
Unfortunately, a year of seasoning has not changed Witt's performance against the fastball. He faces the pitch 40.6% of the time simply because it works. A 24% K%, 22.6 put-away%, and .174 batting average are not great metrics for the second-year shortstop. Baseball Savant says the four-seam fastball has a -6 run value against Witt in 2023. That may not sound like a lot, but it is bad. Witt against the fastball ranks 1,243rd among all MLB batters according to run value. Only four other batters rank worse than Witt by run value, all against the four-seam fastball, oddly enough.
Sure, there are metrics showing Witt is improving against the fastball. Slight improvements in K%, Hard Hit%, and Whiff% show some signs of hope. But his production against the pitch so far in 2023 should concern fans. Hopefully, Witt can figure out how to address his Achilles heel at the plate.