Why Swanson is absolutely mashing in 2019

Swanson's hard-hit rate has exploded this season...

Knox Bardeen
April 10, 2019 - 2:32 pm
Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

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In 194 batted balls a season ago, Dansby Swanson had 10 barrels, a new analytic that MLB says uses "exit velocity and launch angle as a pair to find the hitters who just mash the most."

To help with that math, 5.2 percent of Swanson's batted balls were of the "mash" variety.

Thus far in 2019, the Atlanta Braves shortstop is barreling at a 21.4 percent clip. Statcast confirms Swanson to be in the top 6 percent of all MLB hitters in barrel percentage.

The numbers tell us Swanson is definitely mashing more this season. He's already sitting at four home runs through 43 plate appearances. It took him 175 plate appearances (42 games) to reach four bombs in 2018.

Where else could we look at to explain Swanson's .324 batting average and his 1.183 OPS?

Former Braves infielder Nick Green explained health and a few mechanical adjustments to Swanson's swing as factors to his new power surge.

There’s also the fact that Swanson is crushing more line drives.

Swanson's line drive rate is 32.1 percent, up from 19.9 percent last season and well above his career 22.1 percent. His groundball rate has dropped to 32.1 percent from 42.4 percent.

A look at his plate discipline explains more as well.

The Braves shortstop is swinging at almost 20 percent fewer pitches this season. While that may sound counterintuitive to power hitting success, a further explanation reveals Swanson’s patience is truly benefiting him.

While he’s still swung at about 67 percent of the pitches he’s seen in the strike zone (his career average is 67.1 percent) this season, he’s drastically decreased his chasing of bad pitches. Swanson has swung at 34 percent fewer pitches outside the strike zone in 2019.

Swanson is still swinging at strikes and leaving many bad pitches alone. That has given him more opportunities to mash. Numbers never lie.