Food For Thought: Nick Swisher

Mailbag: Getting Soriano and keeping the draft pick
Open Thread: Snowpocalypse 2010

One thing to remember when looking at the graph, O’Neill didn’t really hit his stride until he joined the Yankees (at age 30) and got a bit of a boost from the short rightfield porch. Paulie had just one season better than 3.0 WAR through age 29 while Swish has exceeded that level four times in his six full seasons. There’s no denying that Swisher was a better player than O’Neill through that age, but I suspect the second half of his career won’t be nearly as good. O’Neill was simply a much better pure hitter in terms of making hard contact. That’s not to say Swish will fall off a cliff, I just don’t expect him to be as productive into his mid-to-late 30’s as O’Neill was. Not many are.

(related graphs)

Mailbag: Getting Soriano and keeping the draft pick
Open Thread: Snowpocalypse 2010
  • JGS

    I’m always surprised by the number of people who think Swisher is a fluke and should be traded now when his stock is high. His OPS+ has been between 122 and 130 in four of the past five seasons.

    2010: 130
    2009: 122
    2008: 92
    2007: 126
    2006: 125 (with 35 home runs, playing half his games in Oakland National Park).

    Which season was the fluke there?

    • FIPster Doofus

      Swisher is criminally underrated by a good portion of people. My guess is for two reasons: 1. He has a low career BA, and that’s how a lot of fans measure performance. 2. As a Yankee, he has struggled during the playoffs with the exception of the Twins series this year, and that’s another big performance gauge for a large chunk of fans.

      I was pondering the other day what Swisher would have gotten if he hit the free-agent market this offseason. I’d think at least $15 mill per year. Werth, a decent comparable to Swisher, signed for 7/126 ($18M AAV). Werth is better both offensively and defensively, but Swisher is slightly younger, hasn’t dealt with Werth’s injury issues, and has a longer track record of success.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      He’s not a fluke in a traditional sense, where a player completely sucks and has one good year or vice versa, he’s more of a “good player that had a really good year” type of fluke,

      • Total Dominication

        Really? Because the difference between 125 and 130 is pretty small. He had a career year, but it was verrrry slightly better than others.

        • Jonathan

          ya not to mention he’s in his prime now and playing in our lineup and ballpark could help explain something that small.

  • KofH

    So what did happen in ’08?


  • Grandy

    Bernie was better than both of them.

    • Steve H

      Babe Ruth was better than Bernie.

      • first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21

        Casey Kelly is better than Babe Ruth.

    • Accent Shallow

      Oh, absolutely.

      But what does that have to do with anything?

  • Mark L.

    His dramatic swing in BA/OBP from 2009 to 2010 was quite intriguing. I wonder if he’ll regress to being a .250-60 hitter and if the walks will return.

    • Jerome S.

      I would actually kinda like that. A walk’s as good as a hit.

      • Total Dominication

        That’s not true. A walk is close to as good as a hit. How close depends on the hitterl FOr Bret Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk is pretty much as good as a hit. For Nick Swisher or jason Werth, not as much. A 350/350/500 line is muuuuuuuuuch better than a 200/350/400 line.

        • JAG

          But the real question is, is a 350/350/500 line better than a 200/350/500 line? the higher batting average with no walks is clearly better with a higher slugging, but if the SLG is the same, then how much difference does it make?

          I still take your point that for someone who runs the bases well, a walk is just as good as a hit wheras if you don’t run as well it doesn’t help as much. After all, if you’re Jorge Posada, a walk just means a time on base that has no chance to split the gap or go over the wall, but if you’re Brett Gardner, you’re only slightly less likely to end up on 2nd with a walk as with a hit. I just don’t think your example line fully gets the point across.

          • Mike Axisa

            A baserunner can’t go first-to-third or score from second on a walk though.

          • Total Dominication

            The point is trading hits for walks leads to less 2bs, 3bs, and HR’s. For the GGBg’s of the world, big deal, but for mot players there is going to be a difference is slg. By trading hits for walks, you always give up slugging points.

  • kmarx

    Mantle was better than both of them

    • JGS
      • Jesus Montero’s Brain

        holy shit

        • AJ

          Steve Nebraska is better than all of them combined.

      • Eric Young

        That’s very funny!

    • Jerome S.

      What’s your point? Only Bonds, Williams, Cobb, Mays, Ruth, Gehrig and possibly a few others were as good of a hitter as Mantle. He’s a once-in-a-generation talent.

  • Matt Imbrogno

    Couldn’t we argue that Swisher’s better “old player skills” like taking walks and hitting for power bode well for his aging?

    • Mike Axisa

      Sure, but O’Neill had those too and he was a better contact guy.

    • Accent Shallow


      Typically, younger players who display old player skills age poorly.

  • AJ

    Swisher is one of the undervalued guys we have that we should keep while he’s in his prime. Can we have an open thread so I can trash the people on MLB network?

  • mbonzo

    Best everyday players for the Yankees in 2010 were Cano, Swisher, Gardner, and Granderson. Imagine, someone saying that to you after the 2008 season?

    • Jerome S.

      A-Rod and Teix were pretty good too, just not by the lofty standards that they set for themselves. I mean, A-Rod at least = Granderson in 2010.

      • mbonzo

        Thats true. I would say Arod and Grandy had about the same year. I think Teix was slightly worse than them. All three of them could have had much better seasons.

  • mike c

    it looks like o’neill had a couple of injury-trouble seasons early in his career compared to swish… but can anyone explain how he managed to get 6 points in the MVP voting for 1990 while putting up 0.0 WAR?

    • first name only male (formerly Mike R. – Retire 21

      Grit. He led the league in getting his uniform dirty.

    • JGS

      The Reds came in first. I looked at that ballot and wondered how Joe Carter (and his 85 OPS+ and -1.4 bWAR for a fourth-place team) got votes, and then I saw his 115 RBIs.

  • AJ

    Hows Swisher’s fantasy value going to be this year?

  • Accent Shallow

    I was unable to find the info on the Fangraphs site: how do they calculate WAR prior the UZR era? Do they use TZ? Or some other adjusted range factor, particularly for historical players?

  • leftylarry

    Hot young wives are often motivating factors for continued longevity.