Data Mining is a regular post each week of the MLB season. It will focus on data behind the picks that combine hundreds of data points to give you the most accurate picture possible of what to expect from each player. Digging deeper than slash lines will give you a leg up on your competition.
O-Swing % – Zach Greinke (ARI) 35.2%
This isn’t the Zach Greinke of Dodger days, but he’s been much better than he was in his first year in the desert. His K-Rate has gone up, his walk rate has gone down, and most metrics such as xFIP, FIP has all improved through his first nine starts of the season. The only number worrisome to me on the year is his hard-hit rate. Perhaps one of those reasons he’s been better is that he’s getting opposing hitters to swing at trash. He’s 2nd in the league in O-Swing% at 35.7%, meaning opposing hitters are swinging at balls out of the zone. Not only are they swinging at those pitches out of the zone their contact rates are among the lowest in the league. Just 20 pitchers have a lower O-Contact rate than Greinke’s 56.7%. Combine that with Greinke’s overall 13.2% swinging strike rate, you can see why he’s having a bounce back season in 2017.
Swinging Strike % – Danny Salazar (CLE) 16.4%
Danny Salazar’s season is quite the enigma so far. His Walk-Rate is an ugly 10.2%, and his ERA is north of 5.00; but a deeper dive into the numbers suggests some improvement is coming. His xFIP Is 3.18, which is his best mark since the 10 starts in his rookie season back in 2013, but the number that really interests me here is his swinging strike rate. He’s ahead of swing and miss kings like Chris Sale and Max Scherzer. To put that in perspective the best cumulative number over the last three years is Clayton Kershaw at 15.9%, and only Chris Sale, Max Scherzer and Francisco Liriano are over 14.0% over the last three seasons combined. With that many swings and misses against him he’s bound to rebound as soon as his absurdly high 23.7% HR/FB rate (and perhaps his control) corrects itself. For the time being consider some Salazar at likely low ownership rate with his boom potential evident!
Cover Photo – Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports