2021 Fantasy Baseball Tips: What Is CSW%?

Fantasy baseball gamers and baseball bettors alike are always hunting for information to take their game to the next level. The brainchild of Alex Fast, CSW%, is now readily available on leaderboards to aid them in their quest.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Advice: What Is CSW%?

CSW% measures called strikes and whiffs. You may be familiar with swinging-strike percentage as a way to measure strikeout ability, but that only tells part of the story — similar to how batting average doesn’t give you the full sense of a hitter’s on-base ability.

Ever wondered why a pitcher’s strikeout rate seemed inflated relative to their ability to miss bats? Pitchers who earned called strikeouts weren’t getting their due from swinging-strike percentage, which ignored all those knee-buckling curveballs and backdoor cutters that freeze hitters in their tracks. A called strike and swinging strike are of equal value, and CSW% eliminates that blind spot.

Now, pitchers who rely more on their command, pitch mixes, and deception rather than sheer velocity or stuff are getting the credit they deserve. Furthermore, hurlers who can overpower and outsmart hitters are among the leaders in CSW%.

When first diving into a new statistic, I like to check out the leaderboard to see if the players I expect to be at the top of the list rank among the best. Sure enough, that’s the case when looking at the leaders in CSW% among qualified pitchers from 2018-2020. The likes of Chris Sale, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom crack the top 10, as expected.

These pitchers are also near the top of the swinging-strike leaderboard, so it’s not surprising to see them here as well. The presence of Kyle Hendricks and Zack Greinke in the top 20, however, illustrates the value of this new statistic. Neither Hendricks nor Greinke rank highly in swinging-strike percentage, but both record strikeouts at an acceptable rate because of their elite ability to get called strikes.

Accordingly, this statistic can help you identify which pitchers are succeeding against hitters and avoiding contact, even if they’re not necessarily blowing them away. It can also be an indicator of which pitchers may experience a surge in strikeout rate, if they haven’t already.

No statistic is perfect in isolation, but CSW% is an upgrade over its predecessors. And since it’s still relatively new, the time is now to get acquainted with it.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out more of The Game Day’s MLB coverage and fantasy baseball advice here.

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