Nov
23

What Went Right: Nick Swisher

By

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It’s easy to forget that when the Yankees originally acquired Nick Swisher in a steal of a trade from the White Sox last offseason, he was expected to be their starting first baseman. It’s even easier to forget that after the Yanks signed Mark Teixeira, Swisher was then pushed into a rightfield platoon with Xavier Nady even though he was a switch hitter. The rest is history. Nady blew out his elbow in April, giving Swish the playing time he deserved, and he rewarded the team with the best offensive season of his career (.375 wOBA).

There were no hurdles for Swisher to clear when the 2010 season started. The starting rightfielder’s job was his outright, and he began the season with a six game hitting streak that never seemed to stop. Swish hit .298/.377/.524 (.391) with 15 homers in the first half, earning his first All Star Game berth as the Send Swish! campaign landed him the Final Man vote. He even got to take some hacks in the Homerun Derby. Swish opened the second half with a walk-off hit against the Rays (after tying the game in the eighth) in the first game after George Steinbrenner‘s passing. It was Nick’s Bobby Murcer moment, arguably the most memorable game of the season.

While Swish has always been a productive offensive player, he did some work with hitting coach Kevin Long last winter to help him better combat breaking balls. The work really started during the 2009 playoffs, but the offseason gave the two plenty of times to get things straight. The result was a setup in the batter’s box that was much quieter than in the past. Here’s a video of Swisher from April 2009, and here’s April 2010 for comparison. There’s less movement in general but especially with his hands, and his stance closed up as well.

The result was, again, the best season of Swish’s career. He hit a career high .288, trading in some base hits for walks, and his strikeout rate (24.6%) was the second lowest since his rookie season. Average offensive around the league fell eight points to a .321 wOBA in 2010, but Swisher improved two points to .377 (.288/.359/.511 with 29 homers overall). Add in basically average defense, and the total package was worth 4.1 fWAR, the best mark of his career and seventh best among AL outfielders. It’s hard to complain about Nick Swisher’s 2010 season, the guy has been nothing but productive in pinstripes since Kenny Williams gave him away.

Categories : Players
  • http://twitter.com/astrophunq Dax J.

    I’d like to thank Kenny Williams for selling Nick Swisher low and being victim of a Cashman-trademarked ninja move.

    That said, I was really happy with Swish’s 2010 performance. Career highs all around.

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

    Looking at Nick’s plate discipline statistics on fangraphs it’s pretty remarkable how much he changed from 2009 (and his career as a whole) to 2010. The % of pitches he swung at outside of the strike zone rose from 17.3% in 2009 to 25.7% in 2010. The pitches he swung at inside the strike zone rose even more, 57% in 2009 to 68.4% in 2010. Swinging more, and at strikes, helped a lot.

    Like you said, he seemed to trade walks for hits by swinging more often and taking advantage of his reputation of taking a lot of pitches. He also adjusted to the curve – something I know a lot of us noticed in the game threads this year – to keep pitchers honest.

    While I did miss the Swish who worked full counts every time he got to the plate, the 2010 version works just fine for me as well.

  • vinny-b

    nick swisher = most underrated player on the Yankees

    inparticularly, by the brain dead NYC sports media

  • http://www.joelefkowitz.com joe lefko

    Cahsman sure has a knack for acquiring right fielders for essentially nothing. Swish, Abreu, Justice, if he counts.

    • vin

      That’s a skill the Yanks in general have had. Ruth, Maris, O’Neill

  • vinny-b

    side note: if not for Cano’s career year, Nick Swisher is 2010 team MVP

  • CBean

    Nick Swisher for President (of my heart!)

  • Regis

    I love this outfield. On offense and defense, it’s pretty sweet.

    • vinny-b

      yup. Wouldn’t trade this OF with any other team in MLB. As a NYY fan, it is the outfield have been waiting for

  • Monteroisdinero

    Swish and ARod now have an almost identical setup from the right side. The KLong factor.

  • cano is the bro

    watching that swish walk-off video brings me pure joy. Especially 26 seconds in when you briefly see Mo jumping around like a little girl and celebrating. And the AJ pie at the end, he’s so sneaky with those haha

  • virginia yankee

    Cashman — Let’s see – he missed on Ordonez (did not even try), Vlad, might have been more Steinboss’s fault, there were several awful’s after O’Neil retired, the wonderful trade for Reuban Sierra, and Swisher was to be a 1st baseman, and who can forget Buba Crosby – maybe a pass on that since Proctor was more important until St Joe destroyed his arm.

    General managers and field managers are as a class not very god or bright by management standards — we fans are conditioned by a less than critical press and by our own hopes to give undeserved props. Swisher turned out to be a steal but he was awful with the White Sox and he was sought for 1B when there were few but better alternatives. After Texiera the Yankees were clueless on what to do with — PICK A DEITY OF YOUR CHOICE TO THANK but don’t thank Cashman. Thus far we have not seen the even the obvious average move for the next 3 years. One can only hope he is being totally secretive and working a truly inspirational deal. But don’t hold your breath — in 10 years Goldman or someone else will write a book and discover Cashman was “brilliant” — the strategy was never to risk a trade -do the obvious for the ARods, bu just wait to sign the free agent and give up the cash and a draft pick. Shop the “D” list for the piece parts. If so at least it is a Strategy. As long as the free agents can play above replacement level in their late 30’s the season will produce wins. But they will be joyless, expected – we will not again witness the growth of a Posada, Jeter, Pettit, William or Rivera. We will get the Sheffields, Pavanos, Johnsons, Wrights, et al.

    • vin

      So much wrong with this.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      O:S

      • Betty Lizard

        Can someone please clue me in on what O:S means? Seems like something I should know! Thanks.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          Too lazy to look for the link, but it means Operation Shutdown; ignore.

          Usually used in response to batshit insane posts, like the one above.

    • Clay Bellinger

      Is this a joke?

    • Thomas

      Cashman didn’t miss on Magglio, the Yankees had Sheffield already (who was better) and most teams didn’t want Ordonez. The Tigers gave him a deal that I believe surprised most people with its overall value. Ordonez was coming off a season where he only played 52 games and posted a good but not great 114 OPS+. He has then for Detroit posted a 15.6 fWAR over 6 seasons (8.9 which came in one season), which isn’t stellar.

    • FIPster Doofus
      • Clay Bellinger

        haha

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

      Pettitte, Williams

      O:S to the rest

    • Jorge

      Not only is the post delusional, but this has to be the most annoying writing style I’ve seen from a Yankee fan.

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        Totally agree about it being delusional, but I’ve encountered some “writing styles” that would give this post a run for the money.

        I blame Kerouac.

        • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

          I don’t know. Considering the commenting format allows you to bold and italicize, there are few things more annoying than writing in all caps.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewLeighNYC Andrew

    Swish’s defense in right seemed much steadier, as well, and I know his UZR improved at least a little bit compared to 2009, but in general he seemed to be positioned better and didn’t have many glaring mis-plays out there. His throwing was better, too, most assists in his career I believe.

    The offense was way more important, but he definitely contributed to having 3 good defenders in the outfield and wasn’t totally carried by Grandy and Gardy.

  • kosmo

    There is no doubt Swisher had a good year.It´s funny how postseason 2010 he didn´t.He needs to get that monkey off his back.

    • Clay Bellinger

      He’s just gotta launch one in a big spot and everyone will forget…ala Tino.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Swisher was quietly excellent in the Twins series (.333/.385/.750). He, like most of his teammates, struggled against the Rangers.

      • vin

        What have you done for me lately, Nick?

        Who cares that its only 22 AB’s vs. the Rangers?

        • Clay Bellinger

          Sarcasm right?

          • vin

            No… I’m being serious.

            /sarcasm

            //sarcasm on the other post too.

            • Clay Bellinger

              haha, ok that’s what I figured. Funny how many people will say stuff like that being dead serious though.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    oh wow! i didn’t know there was a post here. I just saw the What Went Right: Nick Swisher and figured ‘yup.’

  • James

    Love Swisher… Also thanks for the video comparison it really helped break down his swing. I think in 09 his swing was still pretty quiet, but K Long helped get his hands in a better position to explode through the ball quicker. Also, Swisher’s season would have been even better if he hadn’t been battling injury issues down the stretch (and i’m sure into the playoffs too).

  • David in Cal

    I agree that Swisher turned out to be a steal. I love the guy.

    However, it’s worth noting that the guy he was traded for, Wilson Betemit, had a heck of a season in 2010: In 315 PAs, he hit .297/.378/.511, which adds up to an OPS+ of 141.

    • http://www.twitter.com/jordansmed JGS

      Emphasis on 315 PAs. He also played horrendous defense (-1.2 defensive bWAR, -12.6 UZR)

    • Not Tank the Frank

      Yeah where the hell did that come from? He’s always had the pop but never the on-base skills.

    • Thomas

      Also, worth noting Betemit did that for the Royals and not the White Sox (who the Yankees traded him to, because the White Sox released him). Also Betemit was worth -11 runs defensively in under 500 innings.

    • vin

      The Royals were the ones who hit the “Wilson Betemit Jackpot.”

      The Braves, Dodgers, Yankees and Chi Sox all tried, but the Royals reaped what the others had sowed.

      Facetiousness aside, he did have a good year. Let’s see if he can remain productive at the plate because he’s a geniunely awful defender.

  • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

    When I grow up I want to be just like Swish

    • RL

      Or at least his contract value!