Ever hear of Occam’s Razor? It’s the understanding that sometimes the simplest answer to a question or problem is the right one. It’s very appropriate here when discussing swinging-strike ratios.

Your goal in fantasy is to have pitchers who give up the fewest runs and strike out the most batters, right? Therefore, a pitcher who misses a lot of bats is someone you want.

Your goal in fantasy is to have hitters who get hits, drive in runners and score runs themselves, right? Therefore, a hitter who makes a lot of contact, a guy who doesn’t swing and miss a ton, stands the best chance to do that and is someone you want on your team.

Easy, right? A pitcher with a high swinging-strike ratio is someone who misses a lot of bats and a hitter with a low swinging-strike ratio tends to make a whole lot of contact. Obviously, this is a bit of an oversimplification and we can probably find an exception to the rule here and there, but for the most part, this is the general rule of thumb.

So how is swinging-strike rate calculated? Just as easy:

swinging strikes / total pitches

Now just as you were shown in Know Your Metric Benchmarks, the first thing you need to do when scouting hitters and pitchers is to know the league average and what numbers you are striving to achieve. Last year, the league average swinging-strike percentage for both hitters and pitchers rang in at 10.4-percent. If you take a look at league averages over the years, you’ll see that it has risen from 9.4-percent to last season’s mark over just a five-year span, so keep in mind that the number is increasing steadily as pitchers are getting stronger. For the sake of this article, though, we’ll stick with the 2017 league average and understand that you’re looking for pitchers who post a swinging-strike percentage higher than the league average and hitters who post marks lower than 10-percent.

Again, there are obvious exceptions to the rule. You hate to see Aaron Judge’s 13.1-perecent swinging-strike rate, but you’ll certainly take those 50 bombs, right? Or how about Joey Gallo’s 19.2-percent rate last year? In this era, which is retro to the old Earl Weaver days in Baltimore, we’ll tolerate heavy strikeouts and low batting averages if it means we’re seeing 40-plus home runs. Some players, we can forgive the heavy whiffs and abundance of swing-and-misses. But you take a guy like Odubel Herrera who posted a 13.2-percent swinging-strike rate and you’re pushing the envelope a little. How comfortable are you with him maintaining his .281/.325/.452 slash line knowing that his missing that many pitches and that the number is increasing from year to year?

We get exceptions on the pitching front too, of course. Pitchers like Jake Arrieta and Jose Quintana both have swinging-strike rates below the nine-percent mark last season, but both also were effective against hitters for the most part. Even guys like Gerrit Cole and Marcus Stroman were under the league average. They may not miss a ton of bats, but they also induce a lot of weak contact. So just understand that, like any metric, it is something to be used as a guideline in conjunction with a world of other stats. You don’t want it standing out on its own, but combined with several other metrics, it provides you with some added insight and helps you make final decisions as to which players you want to draft.

To help steer you along, below are the best and worst swinging-strike rates of 2017.

Pitchers (minimum of 100 IP)

*134 qualified

The Best of 2017

NameSwStr% NameSwStr% NameSwStr%
Danny Salazar16.4% Jacob deGrom13.3% Lance McCullers12.0%
Corey Kluber15.6% Stephen Strasburg13.0% Sonny Gray11.9%
Max Scherzer15.5% Luis Severino13.0% Alex Wood11.8%
Masahiro Tanaka15.1% Kenta Maeda12.5% Brad Peacock11.8%
Chris Sale14.9% James Paxton12.5% Dinelson Lamet11.8%
Robbie Ray14.2% Mike Clevinger12.5% Joe Musgrove11.7%
Clayton Kershaw14.1% Zack Greinke12.4% Eduardo Rodriguez11.7%
Chris Archer13.4% Yu Darvish12.3% Rich Hill11.5%
Carlos Carrasco13.4% Jordan Montgomery12.2% Dylan Bundy11.4%
Zack Godley13.3% Dan Straily12.2% Sean Manaea11.4%

The Worst of 2017

NameSwStr% NameSwStr% NameSwStr%
Matt Cain4.9% Derek Holland7.1% Jesse Chavez8.1%
Bartolo Colon5.4% Zach Davies7.2% Jameson Taillon8.2%
Andrew Cashner6.1% Martin Perez7.3% Jose Urena8.2%
Ty Blach6.2% Robert Gsellman7.4% Kyle Hendricks8.3%
Nick Martinez6.5% Adam Wainwright7.4% Joe Biagini8.3%
Mike Pelfrey6.6% Kyle Freeland7.5% Jeremy Hellickson8.3%
Miguel Gonzalez6.7% Jhoulys Chacin7.9% Scott Feldman8.3%
Alex Cobb6.7% Matt Garza8.1% Ubaldo Jimenez8.3%
Kendall Graveman6.8% Jordan Zimmermann8.1% Yovani Gallardo8.3%
Antonio Senzatela6.9% Wade Miley8.1% Ivan Nova8.4%

Hitters (minimum of 400 PA)

*216 qualified

The Best of 2017

NameSwStr% NameSwStr% NameSwStr%
Jonathan Lucroy4.0% Brett Gardner5.2% Zack Cozart6.0%
Joe Mauer4.1% Jose Ramirez5.5% Robbie Grossman6.2%
Dustin Pedroia4.2% Nick Markakis5.5% Mike Trout6.2%
DJ LeMahieu4.3% Andrelton Simmons5.6% Jordy Mercer6.2%
Joe Panik4.4% Adam Frazier5.7% Ian Kinsler6.2%
Denard Span4.7% Guillermo Heredia5.8% Josh Reddick6.3%
Mookie Betts5.1% Jorge Polanco5.8% Justin Turner6.4%
Ben Zobrist5.1% Daniel Murphy5.8% Alex Bregman6.4%
Melky Cabrera5.1% Joey Votto5.9% Buster Posey6.5%
Anthony Rendon5.2% Matt Carpenter6.0% Francisco Lindor6.5%

The Worst of 2017

NameSwStr% NameSwStr% NameSwStr%
Joey Gallo19.3% Carlos Gomez15.8% Carlos Gonzalez14.7%
Javier Baez19.2% Corey Dickerson15.5% Mark Reynolds14.4%
Miguel Sano18.4% Jorge Bonifacio15.4% Chris Davis14.3%
Mike Zunino17.9% Michael Taylor15.3% Trevor Story14.2%
Keon Broxton17.6% Matt Kemp15.2% Scott Schebler14.2%
Matt Davidson16.3% Tim Anderson15.2% Mike Napoli14.0%
Avisail Garcia16.3% Hunter Renfroe15.0% Nelson Cruz13.9%
Ian Happ16.1% Tim Beckham15.0% Domingo Santana13.8%
Austin Hedges16.1% J.D. Martinez14.8% Mark Trumbo13.8%
Brandon Moss16.0% Khris Davis14.7% Trey Mancini13.8%