Joe Girardi‘s proclamation of Xavier Nady as starting right fielder earlier this week was a bit of a disappointment. Yet at the same time, as we’ve all noted over the past month, this “competition” will continue throughout the season. Once one hits a slump, chances are the other will start to get the majority of the at bats. While the RAB Triumvirate advocated Swisher, it’s not worth crying over.
You might remember an article from earlier this month, via Beyond the Boxscore, in which we presented Sky Kalkman’s analysis showing that Nick Swisher is the clear choice for right fielder. The analysis wasn’t without flaw; it was based mostly on CHONE projections, which are weighted in Swisher’s favor (not all projection systems rate him equally). Today he’s back up to it again, breaking down the players by offense and defense. It’s pretty tame compared to the last analysis, though it comes to the same conclusion.
Also interesting is how out of line 2008 was for each player. Sky uses wRAA, but we’ll just go with wOBA. After wOBAs of .336 and .346 in 2006 and 2007, Nady skyrocketed to .374 last year. Thankfully, that’s part of a consistently upward trend. Even if he regresses a bit, to say .365, it would be high-quality season. For Swisher it was a dip from .368 and .361 to .325. Yes, that’s a consistently downward trend, but .368 to .361 is hardly significant.
On the defensive end we’re learning nothing really new. Swisher has been fairly average, leaning towards slightly above, over the past three years. Nady’s UZR has been consistently negative throughout his career, but it doesn’t appear cripplingly so. Swisher also gets bonus points for logging over 1,000 career innings in CF, while Nady has just 45 at the most demanding outfield position.
This is just some information to chew on as we kick off the open thread. Yes, I still think Swisher should start, but I’m not worried because he’ll have the chance to prove his case once the games count. If Nady doesn’t get off to a hot start, you can figure to start seeing Swisher in right field five days a week by mid-April. If Nady gets off to a hot start, all the better for the team.
Before you guys have at it, we’d like to take just a second to mention the passing of former Yankee Johnny Blanchard. He was the backup backstop for the Yanks from 1959 to 1965, and hit quite well in the postseason. He was 76.