Sep
17

Can Nick Swisher reach .300?

By

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Contrary to what baseball traditionalists might tell you, hitting .300 is not that important. There are more important things in baseball than getting a hit three times in every 10 official at-bats. Hitting for power and getting on base are equally important, and while they can be part of batting average they aren’t necessarily so. In other words, there are many ways to become a productive player, and hitting .300 is only one of them. Still, it’s an interesting feat that still carries some power in today’s game. It becomes even more interesting when an unsuspecting player reaches the plateau.

Nick Swisher hasn’t been anyone’s idea of a .300 hitter for a while now. At Ohio State he hit .299, .322, and .348, but once he hit the minors that average started to dip. He compensated by getting on base and hitting for power, but by 2005 it became clear that he wasn’t the kind of guy that would dunk a single over the second baseman’s head. Instead he either crushed the ball, struck out, or took his base. In his first full big league season more than half of his hits went for extra bases, and in 223 of his 522 plate appearances he either drew a walk, struck out, or hit for extra bases.

Swisher experienced a similar effect during his first year in the Bronx. Of his 124 hits, more than half went for extra bases and again nearly half of his plate appearances (288 of 607) resulted in a strikeout, walk, or extra base hit. He hit only .249, which drew the ire of some old school fans, but Swisher contributed greatly to the Yankees 103 wins. His ability to avoid making outs and his power made him a useful player, albeit not in the traditional mold. But this year we’ve seen something completely different.

It was evident early on that Swisher was going to be a different type of hitter this year. He started swinging earlier in the count and was lining pitchers over infielders’ heads for singles. He started hitting bleeders through the hole. He stopped taking so many walks. It’s not that Swisher stopped being so patient; he’s still 20th in the AL in pitches seen per plate appearance. But he is definitely looking early in the count for pitches he can drive. These don’t necessarily have to be meatballs, but simply pitches that he can hit on a line. It has worked so far, as he currently sports a .288 batting average.

A knee injury has kept Swish either out of the lineup or ineffective for most of September. He’s just 3 for 26* this month, dropping his average from .296 to its current .288. That will certainly hurt his chances at hitting .300. Health is obviously a priority over an arbitrary milestone, but it would still be nice to see Swish reach that this year. He doesn’t have much time left to make it up.

*Yeah, and 1 for 1 in walk-off opportunities.

Assuming he gets the weekend series off, he’ll have 12 games in which to add 12 points to his batting average. At 4 PA per game that’s 48 remaining, but let’s say 50 since there are plenty of games in which he’ll appear five times. He’s walking in 9.3 percent of PA so far, so let’s assume five walks the rest of the way. That’s 45 AB added to his current 507, so 552. With that many AB a player would need 166 hits to reach .300. Swisher currently has 146, so he’d need to go 20 for 45. Doing that would go a long way in the Yankees clinching a spot early, but it’s not very likely at all.

While .300 is all but unattainable, it shouldn’t dampen Swisher’s 2010 season. He was a productive player for the Yankees last year, but he’s been on a different level this year. He’s made enough contact that Girardi has been comfortable batting him second. He’s really fit in there, despite all the strikeouts. Last year we were still wondering who the Yankees starting right fielder would be in 2012; Swisher was thought a temporary player. But now it looks like he could be around for a while. I don’t think anyone is complaining about that.

Categories : Offense
  • AndrewYF

    Are we assuming he gets the weekend series off? From what I’ve heard, all of Gardner, Swisher and Pettitte are back and healthy.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      He just got a cortisone injection the other day. I’m assuming he’s out for the weekend until the Yanks tell us otherwise.

      • CBean

        I thought they expected him to come back this series. I could have sworn I read that on LoHud.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          Maybe you’re thinking of Gardner?

          • CBean

            Maybe. I’ll also be glad to have Gardener back. I guess I was just hoping I’d get Andy and Swish on Sunday. Not that Andy isn’t enough of a treat.

            • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

              A very tasty treat at that.

              …Sorry.

              • CBean

                no apologies necessary. My feelings on Mr. Pettitte are the same.

                • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                  Psssht. I will fight you on that. ;)

                • http://twitter.com/firstheart42 seimiya

                  You do not want to argue over Andy with Bexy.

                  (already nursing bruises, black eye, broken arm)

  • RL

    When the Yankees first acquired him, I was really unsure what to expect, especially as he was penciled in as the first baseman. Based on what I had heard about Spring Training, I expected him to be the starting right fielder, but Nady got the nod. I was surprised. However, once Nady went down and Swisher took over every day in RF, he showed some of what he could do. While 2009 was a reallyu nice opening act, 2010 has been great for him. I look forward to the Yankees re-siging him for a few more years after his current contract is up. No complaints here seeing him in right field. His bat has been more than expected and his attitude seems to have helped the club as well.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      Yup I love his blue collar everyday regular guy kind of attitude. He seems to act like I would if I were suddenly transported to an alternate universe wherein I could play ball and do some dramatic shit to help the Yankees win. Like…HFS is this really my life!?!? COOL!!!!!

      Really like the guy and glad he’s our RF’er.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Awesome handle.

        • http://creativejamie.com CreativeJamie.com

          agreed – perhaps the best handle EVER!

          • I am not the droids you’re looking for

            Aw shucks. Thank you kindly!

  • CBean

    Nick Swisher for President (of my heart)

    • http://twitter.com/firstheart42 seimiya

      Nick Swisher is king of my heart. :D

      • Tank Foster

        He’s the Peg o’ my heart. Only geezers will understand that one.

  • pat

    Nick swisher doesn’t reach for .300,

    .300 lowers itself to Nick Swisher.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Well done.

    • Thomas

      .300 lowers itself bows to Nick Swisher.

      Nothing can lower itself to Nick Swisher, since nothing is above him.

  • Klemy

    I love the fact that he always seem like he’s genuinely excited to be doing what he’s doing. The guy loves playing baseball for the Yankees and he loves the fans. They guy is 100% passionate. I love him being part of the team.

    • goterpsgo

      I first noticed Swisher when he was with Oakland and his attitude was the most obvious trait to me. I was very happy when Cash got him before ’09 – needless to say that trade was a total heist. I hope he stays with NYY for a good, long time.

  • vin

    Fun Nick Swisher fact:
    2009 wOBA: .375
    2010 wOBA: .379

  • http://www.lessthismorethat.com/author/ddarrell Jamal G.

    Is there an OF unit in all of MLB that’s under contract for through 2012 that you would take, as a whole (read: you can’t have one or two studs and a replacement-level asshole for the third spot), over New York’s?

    I could be convinced on arguments for Cincinnati (if Joey Votto moves to LF to make room for Alonso at 1B), St. Louis and Texas.

    • http://www.lessthismorethat.com/author/ddarrell Jamal G.

      Tampa as well. I forgot that Matt Joyce will take over RF if they move Zobrist from there.

      • AndrewYF

        Tampa has Upton, Joyce, and Jennings.

        Upton and Jennings are potential (big emphasis on potential) stars, and Joyce isn’t really anything special.

        Too bad about Julio Borbon, because the Hamilton/Cruz duo in Texas is second to none.

        I would say St. Louis has the best case. Superstar in Holliday, up-and-coming superstar in Rasmus, and rock-solid regular in Ludwick.

        Actually, I’d definitely take that over the Yankees trio.

        • http://www.lessthismorethat.com/author/ddarrell Jamal G.

          St. Louis traded away Ludwick, but the reason I still included them is because I’m a big fan of Allen Craig’s bat.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Is there an OF unit in all of MLB that’s under contract for through 2012 that you would take, as a whole… over New York’s?

      Boston’s.

      Sincerely,
      Peter Gammons, Mitch Williams, John Kruk, Ken Rosenthal, Curt Schilling, Mike Lupica, Nomar Garciaparra, Seth Meyer, Ben Affleck, John Paul Morosi, Ian O’Connor, Kevin Kernan, Jeff Pearlman, Darren Daulton, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, BBTN, MLBN, and the fine folks of the MSM everywhere.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        I hear if the players on Boston run around yelling “2004! BOOGA BOOGA!!!” then they are guaranteed to make a big playoff push.

        Luv,
        Joel Sherman

      • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

        Oh yea I did see you playing sports… not!

        /AdamJones’d

    • vin

      There really aren’t any better OF’s that fit into your criteria than the Yanks.

      Offensively, Maybe the Jays (with Snider in LF), but I don’t know if Bautista is under contract through 2012, and Wells obviously has an insane contract. But that’s largely gambling on Bautista and Wells to continue what they’ve done this year, and that Snider develops better plate discipline. That is not nearly as good of a defensive OF though.

      If Milwaukee had a real CF, then I’d make the trade (again not sure of the contracts). But Gomez is virtually replacement level (per B-R).

      • LGY

        Bautista’s gonna be a free agent this year

  • http://creativejamie.com CreativeJamie.com

    I also wonder if hitting .300 on a team like the Yankees is a lot harder than it is on teams that aren’t as good because you get more at bats… not being especially sabermetrically minded, I have no idea.

    I also love that when Nick Swisher talks, he can’t keep his head still, even when he’s doing the promos, “Its all just a click away, on YESnetwork.com!” How can you not love that guy? He’s a human bobble head!

    Swisher Rocks!

    • vin

      Possibly, but I bet it might be easier to hit .300 for the Yanks because no matter where you hit in the lineup, you’ve got pretty good protection. When everyone is healthy, the lineup is a real meat-grinder.

  • don draper

    Hey fans…y’all do realize that if the RS can trim 3 games off our WC lead in a week,as they have the past week,we will be facing them in a do or die situation to end the season.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      But can Nick Swisher reach .300?

    • RL

      if the RS can trim 3 games off our WC lead in a week

      Not gonna happen.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      a. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED
      b. http://riveraveblues.com/off-topic-7/

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Hey don draper… y’all do realize that proper nouns should be capitalized,and commas needs spaces after them,and a semicolon is needed where two independent clauses aren’t linked with a conecting word,and the red sox are as fucking dead as generalissimo francisco franco.

      • Tank Foster

        …and that interrogative sentences typically end with a “?”

  • ZZ

    You spend half the article as a platform to criticize batting average and then you say he has taken it to a different level this year when other things have been sacrificed for a higher average?

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Hitting for power and getting on base are equally important, and while they can be part of batting average they aren’t necessarily so.

      I don’t know how saying batting average is equally important criticizing it.

    • ROBTEN

      In other words, there are many ways to become a productive player, and hitting .300 is only one of them.

      First, Joe clearly argues that BA is not the only important factor (in contrast to how it is often still represented by most commentators). He doesn’t simply criticize it for the sake of criticizing it.

      Second, this year, along with a higher average, Swisher’s OBP and SLG are also up above his career average and as a result his wOBA is also slightly up from last season; so, I think the point is that his new stance and/or approach is allowing Swisher to make better contact on pitches that would not have resulted in the kind of contact that (now) has a higher probability of becoming a hit.

      Of course, there is also the dramatic increase in his BABIP this year (.333 compared to career .284), so it will be important to see if he is able to maintain this new approach and achieve the same results going forward.

      • ZZ

        The article and most of the discussion about Swisher on here is usually premised on the improvements from 2009, so I don’t really care for the career numbers explanation.

        I find it funny how many statistically inclined people say how much better Swisher is this year, yet the statistics they rely on don’t really back up this marked improvement in a strictly numbers form. I am curious to see if they know or can make the argument for really why he is so much better than 2009.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

          The point I missed, and what I’m kicking myself for, is how this could play into next year. That’s where I think he could start to put everything together. Missed opportunity. I’m sure you’ll see that article during the off-season.

          • ZZ

            I’ll hold you to that ;)

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

      I spent part of one paragraph saying that batting average isn’t anything. You have a generous definition of half.

      • ZZ

        Admittedly so. I tend to exaggerate with words at times on here. Makes the responses more interesting.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

          You just summed up Wallace Matthews’s philosophy of writing.

          • ZZ

            Ohhh. Even I enjoyed this comment. Good one.

  • Dream of Electric Sheeps

    I am not overall concern about Swisher’s average I hope the man hits 300. In 2009 the Yankees has posted 268 avg so far as compare to 283 team avg in 2010.

    In light of facing potential starters such as Pavano, Lee and Liriano, Avg will weight more than OBP since you are most likely need to hit on your way on against the above said starters.

    When your also consider our average with RISP , 260 , one has to be concern about this offense’s ability to generate runs with above said starters. It’s a small concern but nonetheless I think it will factor in as negative for the 2010 lineup.

    • Dream of Electric Sheeps

      corrections : 268 in 2010 and 283 in 2009

  • ZZ

    That was a very crafty cut and paste job. Almost like nothing before or after that was not written. Ill bite though. If they are equally important then how has he taken it to another level?

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      That was a very crafty cut and paste job. Almost like nothing before or after that was not written.

      Isn’t that exactly what what saying “If they are equally important then how has he taken it to another level?” is? That’s blatantly ignoring the rest of the post. Talk about crafty cutting and pasting.

      • ZZ

        The article does not tell me at all how he has taken it to another level. It just tells me what has happened so far in 2010.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Let’s ask John Flaherty, maybe he can tell us how Swisher has taken it to Another Level™.

  • http://riveraveblues bob

    i think all hands on deck

  • Sean C

    I love having Swisher in RF. Remember Abreu out there? Abreu could hit, but his fielding was a not-so-fun adventure. Swisher makes RF interesting, but I feel like he’s going to make the play 9 times out of ten that Abreu would not. Gardner, Granderson and Swisher make this one of the best defensive outfields the Yankees have had in many years.