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 11.2-percent. If you take a look at league averages over the years, you’ll see that it has risen from 9.9-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 2019 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 Nelson Cruz ’ 13.8-perecent swinging-strike rate, but you’ll certainly take 40-plus bombs, right? Or how about Javier Báez ’ 18.4-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 Nicholas Castellanos who posted a 14.0-percent swinging-strike rate and you’re pushing the envelope a little. How comfortable are you with him maintaining his .289/.337/.525 slash line knowing that he’s missing that many pitches and that the number is either increasing or staying just as awful from year to year?

We get exceptions on the pitching front too, of course. Pitchers like Zack Greinke and Mike Soroka both have swinging-strike rates below the 11-percent mark last season, but both also were effective against hitters for the most part. Even guys like Kyle Hendricks and Zack Wheeler 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 2018.

Pitchers (minimum 100 IP)

*130 qualified

The Best of 2019

Blake Snell 17.7%Lucas Giolito 15.0%Shane Bieber 14.0%
Gerrit Cole 16.8%Kevin Gausman 14.9%Jack Flaherty 13.8%
Max Scherzer 16.4%Kenta Maeda 14.6%Robbie Ray 13.6%
Justin Verlander 16.1%Patrick Corbin 14.3%Stephen Strasburg 13.5%
Luis Castillo 15.9%Chris Sale 14.2%Yu Darvish 13.4%
Jacob deGrom 15.4%Matthew Boyd 14.1%Kyle Gibson 13.1%
Mike Clevinger 15.2%James Paxton 14.1%Domingo Germán 13.0%

The Worst of 2019

Zach Davies 7.2%Marco Gonzales 7.9%Brad Keller 8.3%
Jake Arrieta 7.2%Mike Fiers 7.9%José Quintana 8.3%
Ariel Jurado 7.3%Rick Porcello 8.0%Eric Lauer 8.3%
Antonio Senzatela 7.4%Mike Leake 8.1%Adam Plutko 8.4%
Glenn Sparkman 7.5%Jhoulys Chacín 8.1%Jordan Zimmermann 8.5%
Adam Wainwright 7.5%Aaron Brooks8.2%Tanner Roark 8.5%
Brett Anderson 7.7%Iván Nova 8.3%Dallas Keuchel 8.7%

Hitters (minimum 400 PA)

*207 qualified

The Best of 2019

David Fletcher 3.2%Daniel Murphy 5.9%Adam Frazier 6.8%
Michael Brantley 4.0%Andrelton Simmons 6.3%Yuli Gurriel 6.8%
Joe Panik 4.1%Jean Segura 6.3%Justin Turner 7.0%
Eric Sogard 4.2%Nicky Lopez 6.4%César Hernández 7.1%
Alex Bregman 4.6%Mike Trout 6.5%Marcus Semien 7.2%
Nick Markakis 4.7%DJ LeMahieu 6.6%Miguel Rojas 7.2%
Mookie Betts 5.1%Kevin Newman 6.6%Tommy Pham 7.3%
Anthony Rendon 5.1%Brett Gardner 6.7%Joey Votto 7.3%
Robbie Grossman 5.5%Josh Reddick 6.7%Jorge Polanco 7.3%
José Ramírez 5.6%Adam Eaton 6.8%Albert Pujols 7.5%

The Worst of 2019

Jorge Alfaro 22.1%Bryce Harper 15.3%Aaron Judge 14.6%
Adalberto Mondesi 21.0%Eloy Jiménez 15.3%Eric Thames 14.6%
Javier Báez 18.4%Scott Kingery 15.2%Raimel Tapia 14.6%
Franmil Reyes 17.8%Willson Contreras 15.1%Rowdy Tellez 14.5%
Jonathan Schoop 17.7%Robinson Chirinos 14.9%Niko Goodrum 14.4%
Avisaíl García 17.3%Kole Calhoun 14.7%Domingo Santana 14.1%
Brandon Dixon 17.2%Ryan McMahon 14.7%Freddy Galvis 14.1%
Khris Davis 16.9%Chris Taylor 14.7%Nelson Cruz 14.0%
Luke Voit 15.8%Jackie Bradley Jr.14.7%Nicholas Castellanos14.0%
Miguel Sanó 15.8%Teoscar Hernández 14.7%Yoán Moncada 13.9%
Danny Santana 15.8%David Dahl 14.7%Adam Jones 13.9%