Diving into the anatomy of Mets' swings

May 14th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

NEW YORK -- What’s in the DNA of a swing?

If you’ve followed much baseball over the past century or so (and if you’re subscribed to this newsletter, you probably have), you’ve likely heard plenty about the concepts of bat speed, long swings, short swings, level swings, uppercuts, and so on and so forth. Nearly all of that has been anecdotal, best gauged via the eye test. Keith Hernandez once described his swing to me as “a series of mild waves lapping upon the shore.” Nice poetry, but what does it mean?

For the first time, we now have publicly available data to quantify player swings. We can finally measure exactly how quick and violent a swing must be to produce elite damage.

“It’s difficult to know if you’re swinging the bat faster if you don’t even know how fast you’re swinging the bat in the first place,” MLB.com analytics guru Mike Petriello wrote this week in his story announcing Baseball Savant’s new bat-tracking leaderboards.

Now, using high frame-rate Hawk-Eye cameras, it’s possible to measure nearly every aspect of a player’s swing. We can tell when it’s getting longer, when it’s getting quicker, when it’s slowing down. Players can subsequently use that data to implement changes.

I spent some time poring through the early 2024 numbers for the Mets, which were enlightening. Among the most interesting:

No Met swings harder than

Alonso’s average bat speed of 75 mph entering Tuesday edged out Francisco Alvarez and Starling Marte for the fastest on the team. That shouldn’t surprise you, given the obvious notion that a quicker bat can do more damage. Giancarlo Stanton, as you might have guessed, is the hardest swinger in Major League Baseball. Alonso ranks 23rd overall. Like Stanton, he squares up balls at a below-average rate. But when Alonso hits them, he hits them hard by virtue of his top-tier torque.

is best at squaring up balls

What can a hitter do when he’s not routinely swinging hard? Center the ball on the sweet spot of the bat. It’s something central to the skill set of McNeil, who has squared up balls on 32.7% of his swings. Alonso, by comparison, is only at 21.4%.

J.D. Martinez has the longest swing

That isn’t a bad thing. Long and short swings are mostly about personal preference, and many players will purposely lengthen or shorten theirs based on game situations. Longer swings are good for power, shorter swings are good for contact. For Martinez, a long swing provides the levers he needs to produce elite exit velocities and ideal launch angles, as he’s done throughout his career. (Omar Narváez, for comparison, has an extremely short swing and low bat speed, which explains why 80% of his Mets hits have been singles.)

features one of the league’s most interesting profiles

Baty has the lowest squared-up swing (13.9%) and squared-up contact (18%) percentages among qualified MLB hitters. He also swings with well-above-average bat speed (73.1%). If Baty can produce better contact, he clearly possesses the natural ability to do more damage. But hitting a round ball with a round bat has always been a maddening task.

For more on bat tracking, be sure to play with the leaderboards here and check out Petriello’s story explaining it. Let’s all nerd out on this together.