A “sword,” as popularized by Rob “the Pitching Ninja” Friedman, is “when a pitcher fools a hitter so badly that he forces a non-competitive swing, one where a batter either regrets his choice or can’t stop himself from taking a hack that looks so ugly it ends up going viral on social media,” as we wrote when introducing the topic in 2024.


Essentially, a sword is a swing that looks like this.

A sword is, for lack of a better phrase, a feeling, but like any actual metric it requires a definition to capture a swing that was not fully unleashed. For a swing to qualify as a sword, it must fulfill each of the following requirements:

  • The pitch must be a swinging strike (no fouls)
  • The bat must cross the front face of home plate
  • The swing must be an “incomplete swing,” defined as a swing where the head of the bat crosses a line set at 5 inches ahead of the front of the plate but does not return back through it
  • The swing must have bat speed that is in the 10th percentile or lower, to make clear that the swing ended up being without serious intent
  • The swing must be no more than 20 mph in the final tracked frames, to avoid “full swings”

In the first month of 2024, there was slightly more than one sword per team game. While a sword is more of a light-hearted stat than a purely analytical one, it likely also speaks to the ability to fool a batter – whether by deception, pure dominant stuff, sequencing or a combination of all of them.

You may view the current season’s swords leaderboard here.