Blast from the Past: Christian Knapczyk, 2020

By Joe Tourville
Partner, Blast Motion

If Christian Knapczyk’s (Joliet Catholic, IL, 2020; Louisville) swing were a car, it would be a Corvette. It’s fast, quick, powerful, and able to make adjustments through traffic. That’s what I said on "Coffee and Curveballs" after evaluating Knapczyk's Blast data from the 2020 Super 60.​​ That analogy still holds true of Knapczyk today; however, I would make the adjustment of upgrading it to a Ferrari.

Going into that year's Super 60, Knapczyk was mainly known for his defensive ability, speed, and scrappiness at the plate. These characteristics are all true, but his Blast metrics provided even more clarity in what we saw in Knapczyk's potential as a hitter. 

The one thing that stuck out to us when evaluating his Blast Metrics was Knapczyk's power profile —specifically, his power efficiency. Knapczyk averaged an impressive 33g in Rotational Acceleration, peaking at 36.4g. His ability to accelerate the bat into his peak bat speed is about as good as you can get. Knapczyk has an uncanny ability to start his swing later than most hitters and still be on time. It’s incredibly quick and efficient, signaling how well his body is sequenced as a hitter and an athlete. The Bat Speed was also good. He averaged 71.6 mph with a peak of 74.1 mph.

Below is a scatterplot displaying each of Knapczyk’s swings from the 2020 Super 60, emphasizing the relationship between Bat Speed and Rotational Acceleration, which makes up our power profile. As you can see, one of the swings is making its way off the graph and all 20 swings are in the target green zone.

Since the 2020 Super 60, Knapczyk has assembled an impressive career at the University of Louisville. In his freshman season in 2021, he slashed .297/.374/.385, earning him a spot on the 2021 All-ACC Freshman Team. In 2022, he slashed an impressive .346/.480/.465, earning a spot on the All-ACC third team. He also had a performance in NCAA tournament that awarded him a selection to the All-NCAA Louisville Regional Team which included a four-hit game versus Texas A&M, all while returning from an ankle injury. This year Knapczyk is off to a hot start slashing .352/.507/.463 through 15 games. 

At this point, I suspect you have gone off and done your own research on Knapczyk. Upon your investigation, you will probably notice what seems to be a contradiction in this write-up. Specifically, the fact that we are highlighting Knapczyk's "Power Profile" when he has only hit two home runs his entire collegiate career. And it is at this point that I remind you that we're looking at Knapczyk's data with a predictive lens. We're looking for future value, not the current value. 

Knapczyk has proved to be a high-contact guy. That is very much priced into his valuation. In fact, he only swung and missed at 10 percent of the pitches he saw as a sophomore at Louisville, including only 6 percent of which were fastballs. However, he also produces a lot of ground balls. High contact and lots of ground balls aren't exactly a common trend for "power."

However, acknowledging this, we at Blast believe Knapczyk has the ability – or the engine, if you will – to increase his power production at the plate. But that will only come in two ways. Firstly, with added strength – which will come easier as he gets older but will still need to find a proper routine at the professional level. Secondly, steepening his bat path, which currently plays pretty flat. We believe Knapczyk can make this adjustment without sacrificing his impressively low swing and miss rate. We also believe that Christian will greatly contribute to a Major League organization for many years.


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