FanPost

Ryan Sweeney Pops Off

I was looking into the numbers on Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz for an article about the two of them, and I thought AN would be interested in the results.

As has been much discussed here, Sweeney, in particular, just looks like someone who should hit for power. He does everything else well -- plays great defense, makes really good contact, works some walks -- but he can't seem to get the ball over the fence. While about 9% of fly balls MLB-wide have left the park over the past three years, Sweeney rounds the bases only about 4.4% of the time he puts the ball in the air. Similarly, 2.2% of MLB liners have left the park since the start of 2008, while Sweeney has never hit a home run on a line drive. All numbers are from Baseball Reference's batting splits pages and are through Saturday's games.

Just for fun, I took all of Sweeney's fly balls and line drives and gave him the MLB average home run rates. Specifically, I converted a few outs into home runs to see what his stat line would look like if he hit the ball just a little harder -- as hard as an average player. Note that real power hitters get ridiculous home run/fly ball numbers. The benchmark for this is Ryan Howard, who has had more than 1/4 of his fly balls leave the park over his career.

Sweeney's actual batting line is .289/.344/.390 in over 1200 plate appearances (again, numbers don't include yesterday's game). With the adjustment to league average, his career home run total jumped from 13 to 31, and his new line looked like this: .305/.359/.454. Of course, this is really rough and doesn't take into account a number of factors, such as all of the other effects that hitting the ball hard would have, and the probable negative results for his contact rates. It's a rough "what if" look at how different a hitter he would be if he had league average power. And it's a huge difference. He goes from looking like a light-hitting middle infielder (Adam Kennedy was the comp I came up with for his actual line) to a decent corner outfielder. Compare his adjusted line with Johnny Damon's career numbers and he stacks up well.

This is not to take anything away from Sweeney, and it's not to say that he should be trying to hit the ball harder. There's just no way to tell what the effects on his game would be. He's a fantastic player just as he is, and is likely vastly underrated by people who aren't fans of the A's. However, it's fun to imagine what he could be with just a little more pop. The answer to the "what if"? Solid all-star.

Thanks for reading. I also write about baseball in general for Ball Your Base.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Athletics Nation

You must be a member of Athletics Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Athletics Nation. You should read them.

Join Athletics Nation

You must be a member of Athletics Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Athletics Nation. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker