Phillies slugger among the leaders of new Statcast bat tracking metric

With one of the fastest bat speeds in MLB, Kyle Schwarber's 102 home runs as a Phillie aren't by accident.
Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Kyle Schwarber
Philadelphia Phillies designated hitter Kyle Schwarber / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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We know that Kyle Schwarber absolutely crushes his home runs. Whether they're frozen ropes just over the wall or of the moonshot variety, the ball explodes off of his bat on a regular basis. Now we know why.

Well, we already knew why — he swings hard — but thanks to Statcast's new "bat speed" metric we have tangible, measurable evidence to confirm it. The newly released bat tracking measurements calculate all kinds of swing characteristics, as detailed by MLB.com's Mike Petriello. We'll start by looking at the Philadelphia Phillies slugger's bat speed because he has one of the fastest swings in MLB.

According to the leaderboards on Baseball Savant, Schwarber has the third-highest average bat speed. That seems good. But what exactly does it mean?

As MLB.com's David Adler describes, bat speed is the flagship metric of the new bat tracking data, and it "measures how fast the sweet spot of the bat is moving at the point of contact with the baseball."

Kyle Schwarber among the leaders of new Statcast bat tracking metric

Anyway, back to the Phillies masher. Schwarber's 77 mph average bat speed trails only the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton, who has a bonkers 80.6 mph bat speed, and the Pirates' Oneil Cruz at 77.7 mph. There's a reason that Schwarber had three of the Phillies' five longest home runs and four of the five hardest-hit balls last season.

For reference, the MLB average bat speed is 72 mph, with 75+ mph being the delineator for what they're calling a "fast-swing rate" (much like 95+ mph is the mark for hard-hit balls). Schwarber's fast-swing rate is 73.9 percent. So when he swings, over 73 percent of the time he's swinging the bat at 75 mph or faster. No wonder he hits so many home runs.

The other side of the coin is another new metric: "squared-up rate." This measures how often a hitter obtains "a swing’s maximum exit velocity, based on what’s possible considering the speed of the swing and pitch."

Schwarber swings so hard and aggressively that he has the lowest squared-up rate among the Phillies' qualified hitters at 20.5 percent. Bryson Stott, on the other hand, has a very low bat speed but a high squared-up rate (31.7 percent), but not as high as Alec Bohm, who ranks 10th in the majors at 35.7 percent.

Where do the Phillies rank as a team in the new Statcast bat tracking metrics?

As a team, the Phillies rank in the middle of the pack in average bat speed, with a team average of 71.5 mph and rank 21st overall in squared-up rate at 25.1 percent.

One area in which the Phillies excel as a team is "swing length," which measures from the start of the swing until contact with the ball. Their 7.5-foot team average swing length is tied for the second-longest with the Cardinals, just behind the Braves (7.6 feet). This explains their tendency to hit for power but also strike out.

We'll have to see how these leaderboards shift over the course of the season, but it's no mistake that Schwarber (and the Phillies) hit a lot of home runs. He swings to do damage — he doesn't have 102 dingers in 354 games with the Phillies by accident.

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