Updated Whomps Per Whiff and Kimbrel Leaderboards

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I like to make up statistics. Why? Because it’s fun, mostly. There’s so much baseball analysis on the internet these days that without shaking things up, it’s hard to say something truly interesting. Isolated power? You’ve seen it a million times. Strikeout rate, or even strikeout rate implied by whiff rate? Boring. xWhatever, something with BACON in it? We’ve done that before.

Most of my random gimmick stats don’t really catch on. But I’ve used two this year that I think have some real analytical interest to them, and they’re not exactly on the FanGraphs leaderboard page. So I’m going to maintain some Google Sheets with them highlighted, and I’m also going to intermittently highlight the best performers.

Remember whomps per whiff? That one is just fun to say, and particularly fun to hear Vinnie Pasquantino say. Also, it seems like it’s doing something right. Here are the top 10 hitters in baseball by that statistic this year, minimum 500 pitches seen:

Whomps Per Whiff Leaders
Player Whomps Whiffs Whomps Per Whiff Pitches Seen
Juan Soto 34 85 0.400 1030
Ryan O’Hearn 13 39 0.333 510
Tyler Stephenson 14 44 0.318 519
Kyle Tucker 23 76 0.303 950
Aaron Judge 40 152 0.263 1009
Mike Trout 14 50 0.280 574
Shohei Ohtani 32 115 0.278 936
Corey Seager 24 88 0.273 725
Vinnie Pasquantino 16 59 0.271 871
Taylor Ward 22 82 0.268 850

Oh look, another statistic that tells you Juan Soto is amazing. What he’s doing this year is truly ridiculous. He’s absolutely clobbering the ball and yet rarely swinging and missing. He’s as far ahead of Ryan O’Hearn in second as O’Hearn is ahead of Taylor Ward in 10th. He has more barrels and 30 fewer whiffs than Shohei Ohtani.

Meanwhile, O’Hearn and Tyler Stephenson are interesting in their own right. I highlighted Stephenson last time I looked at whomps per whiff, and he’s continued to hit the ball well since then. O’Hearn is absolutely demolishing righties, just like he always does, and the Orioles simply don’t let him face lefties. He only has eight plate appearances against southpaws so far this year.

The next cut of names on the list, the entirety of which can be seen here, has some interesting contrasts, so let’s expand to the top 20:

Whomps Per Whiff Leaders
Player Whomps Whiffs Whomps Per Whiff Pitches Seen
Juan Soto 34 85 0.400 1030
Ryan O’Hearn 13 39 0.333 510
Tyler Stephenson 14 44 0.318 519
Kyle Tucker 23 76 0.303 950
Aaron Judge 40 152 0.263 1009
Mike Trout 14 50 0.280 574
Shohei Ohtani 32 115 0.278 936
Corey Seager 24 88 0.273 725
Vinnie Pasquantino 16 59 0.271 871
Taylor Ward 22 82 0.268 850
Yordan Alvarez 21 80 0.263 840
Bobby Witt Jr. 29 112 0.259 935
Alex Verdugo 11 43 0.256 817
Jung Hoo Lee 6 24 0.250 569
Pete Alonso 22 89 0.247 878
Lars Nootbaar 10 41 0.244 650
Will Smith 17 70 0.243 772
Rhys Hoskins 16 66 0.242 701
Mookie Betts 12 50 0.240 1013
Eloy Jiménez 14 59 0.237 503

There are two types of hitters that get on here: high-contact types with sneaky power and mashers with a solid eye. It’s instructive to see Lars Nootbaar next to Pete Alonso despite vastly differing approaches. The Nootbaar approach – extreme patience, to the point of passivity – can work if you’re scalding the ball. But some of the hitters practicing that approach just don’t do enough damage to make it work. Cavan Biggio has a similar plan – and a .067 whomps per whiff, a quarter the rate of Nootbaar. Edouard Julien and Evan Carter fit into this group as well. Nootbaar has the best wRC+ of the bunch, and he has that despite massively underperforming his xStats. That’s because he’s just more capable than his peers – or at least more successful than them this year – when it comes to tattooing the pitches he deigns to swing at.

Alonso is more or less the opposite. His game is power over selectivity, and even in a down year, he’s in the top 20 for ISO and tied for 11th league-wide in homers. He’s a power-first hitter, in other words, and limiting the whiffs is what makes that work for him. Compare that to similarly power-first hitters like Adolis García and Cal Raleigh. García has whomped (barreled) as many balls as Alonso, but he’s swung and missed 47 more times. Raleigh is in the same boat; he’s still doing damage when he connects, but he’s just coming up empty too often.

The bottom end of the list has a few terrifying names for Cardinals fans: Masyn Winn and Nolan Arenado. Winn simply isn’t a power hitter, and that’s fine; he’s going to go as far as his defense and BABIP carry him. Seeing his relative lack of power at the big league level shouldn’t be surprising; he never hit for much in the minors either. Arenado, on the other hand, used to put up average power numbers without much swing-and-miss in his game. He’s still not striking out much, but he just isn’t hitting the ball hard enough to make things work right now. Good news on this front, though; both Winn and Arenado smashed extra-base hits last night, so they’ll creep a bit higher on the list when that data hits.

There are a raft of Pirates towards the bottom of the list, which helps explain why their offense feels so lost at times. Anthony Volpe and Luis Arraez are also towards the bottom of the list, and they’re great reminders that this statistic can’t capture every good hitter. Some of them simply aren’t trying to max out on the thing it measures. But if you’re wondering how your favorite hitter is doing at the basic job of hitting – hit ‘em hard, but don’t miss – this leaderboard is a great first pass.

The other statistic I’m updating today isn’t actually mine, even after all that opening-paragraph grandstanding about new stats. But I can’t find its origin despite some motivated Googling, so I’ll just call it a FanGraphs community invention. That statistic? Kimbrels, or appearances with a negative FIP.

As a refresher, FIP estimates ERA with a simple formula, and if you’re striking out two-plus batters an inning without walking anyone or giving up a homer, it spits out a negative number. It’s just a linear formula, so there’s no special “meaning” to zero, but it’s fun. A Kimbrel is shorthand for an absolutely dominant relief outing. They’re almost always games where the pitcher overwhelmed opposing hitters, and the pitchers who are the best at racking them up are invariably strikeout artists, often with good command to boot.

Who’s the best at it? Mason Miller, obviously:

Most Kimbrels, 2024
name Kimbrels Appearances Kimbrel Rate
Mason Miller 11 18 61%
Matt Strahm 10 22 45%
Fernando Cruz 10 25 40%
Emmanuel Clase 9 28 32%
Ryan Walker 8 29 28%
Austin Adams 8 24 33%
Ryan Helsley 8 24 33%
Cade Smith 8 23 35%
Craig Kimbrel 8 23 35%
Aroldis Chapman 7 23 30%
Josh Hader 7 22 32%

If you’ve been following Miller’s season, this will hardly come as a shock. He’s steamrolling everyone in his path. He has fewer appearances than everyone around him – the A’s don’t need their closer all that often – but he’s been downright overpowering when he gets a shot.

There are plenty of great closers in the top 10 here. Emmanuel Clase and Ryan Helsley are off to their customary excellent starts. Josh Hader checks in at 11th, and he’s been doing it for a long time. The literal Craig Kimbrel is on the list despite a bumpy season so far. When he’s on, he’s still untouchable, but his velocity and command are fading with time.

More interesting, to me at least, are the great setup men. I was already enthralled by Fernando Cruz, but I love seeing his dominance expressed this way. Matt Strahm has been so good that I expect him to start getting save opportunities. Cade Smith might be the next great Cleveland reliever. Austin Adams and Ryan Walker are putting up excellent seasons as specialists. And while Aroldis Chapman is having an absolutely abysmal season, he can still make the opposing lineup look foolish if he can find the strike zone (he usually can’t).

Want to look at some more options? Here’s the entire list. And check back every week or so, because I’m going to keep updating these two leaderboards throughout the year. I’m not sure whether either is predictive, but I’m pretty sure they’re both fun, and that’s good enough for me to keep doing the background calculations to keep them going.

All data in this article is through games played Monday, May 27.





Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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jfree
15 days ago

something with BACON in it? We’ve done that before.

And as Bruce Dickinson reminds us – BACON is like cowbells. Always need more.