I have a group of Bowling Green students who have been studying “swing and miss” data from the recent season. That motivated me to see how contact rates (proportion of all swings that make some contact with the ball) have changed over the 10 seasons including 2016.
I’ve displayed parallel boxplots of team contact rates below. (I used Fangraphs data that is easily downloadable as a cvs file.) The box contains the middle 50%, the “whiskers” go to the extremes, and unusual rates (found by a standard rule for flagging outliers) are indicated by individual points.
I expected contact rates to decrease in recent years due to the rise in strikeouts, but the drop in the 2016 season is noticeable. (The Rays have made contact with less than 72% of their swings this season.) Perhaps there is a cold weather effect where the pitcher has an advantage? I think there needs to be a proper balance in baseball where the pitchers or batters don’t seem to have too much of an advantage.
It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues the rest of the season.