What Went As Expected: Nick Swisher

Learning From The Rangers
Oppenheimer out of Angels GM mix; Eppler called for second interview
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The Yankees have had one of the league’s best offenses for many years running, but they came into the season with a surprising lack of sure things at the plate. How would Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez continue to decline? Would Curtis Granderson continue to rake after making adjustments with Kevin Long? Would Mark Teixeira‘s batting average bounce back? Can Brett Gardner do it again with the wrist injury in the rear-view mirror? How would Jorge Posada take to DHing? Is Russell Martin healthy? The only two players with any kind of certainty coming into 2011 were budding star Robinson Cano and the less hyped Nick Swisher.

Oddly enough, Swisher’s season started with a rather prolonged slump, particularly in the power department. He’d gotten off to hot starts in his previous two years as a Yankee, so this was quite the opposite. Swish didn’t hit his first homerun until the team’s 22nd game of the season, at which point he was hitting just .237/.351/.303 in 94 plate appearances. The slump continued into late-May, and the Yankees right fielder carried a weak .206/.321/.288 batting line into the May 29th game in Seattle, the Yankees’ 51st game of the season.

A second inning solo homer off Jason Vargas in that May 29th game set the stage for Swisher’s turn around. He put together a little six-game hitting streak and socked another homer three days later, then hit another one out three days after that. It’s not much, but he managed to raise his season batting line from .204/.321/.289 to .215/.342/.348 during the nine-game west coast trip, and he was the team’s best hitter during June: .326/.445/.651 with seven homers and more walks (20) than strikeouts (16). From that May 29th game through the end of the season, he hit .284/.397/.519 with 23 doubles and 21 homers in 442 plate appearances.

Swisher managed to raise his overall season line from that sub-replacement level garbage he put up through the first 51 games to a much more respectable .260/.374/.449 after 162 games, a .358 wOBA that was his worst as a Yankee but still 19th best among the 62 qualified outfielders in baseball. Swisher did struggle against righties (.335 wOBA) compared to lefties (.412), but it wasn’t enough to stop him from leading the team in OBP and posting the seventh highest walk rate (15.0%) in baseball. At 3.4 bWAR and 3.8 fWAR, he was either the 19th or 25th best outfielder in the game, depending on your statistical preference.

The sluggish start and dreadful postseason showing (4-for-19 with a walk) sort of puts a damper on yet another fine season for Swisher, who at this point has to be considered one of the best pickups of the Brian Cashman era when considering cost. He’s gotten on base and hit for power every season he’s been in New York, and he hasn’t spent a day on the disabled list. The Yankees are very likely to pick up Swisher’s $10.25M option for 2012, bringing him back to Bronx for at least one more season, a season that will almost certainly be productive.

Learning From The Rangers
Oppenheimer out of Angels GM mix; Eppler called for second interview
  • deer
    • http://twitter.com/andrewjcalagna Drew

      what the fuck is that?

  • MannyGeee

    butbutbut… the postseason!

  • Brian S.

    Nick Swisher is a postseason choker. (Nevermind the fact that he had a higher 2011 ALDS OPS than Jeter, Martin, and Teixeira).

  • Nick

    I have a man crush on Swish…probably bc my name is Nick too. He can do no wrong!

    • Cris Pengiucci

      As I did on Bobby Richardson, for the same reason you have one on Nick … When I was 5 :-)

      (No, my real name is not Cris)

  • FIPster Doofus

    Let’s be sure to decline his option!!!11

  • the Other Steve S.

    Plus, he’s damn entertaining.

  • Darren

    His wife is definitely hotter than Nevelee O’Neill and Jeff Nelson’s wife.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    I know the yankees absolutely have to pick up the option, there really are no better alternatives for 2012 (outside of a potential trade for a rf) but i can see why he pisses a lot of people off. i hope he can turn around his postseason issues next year.

    • Cory Wade’s emergence

      What pisses people off, the guy loves his job, would people rather he acted like nyjer morgan?

      • JU

        No. Thats not it. Just another myopic Yankee fan.

        What pisses people off is the fact that the guy has the lowest baseball IQ of any living being to ever put on a glove. He has no concept of situations, has the same AB every time, and takes the same swing every time. What’s more, he is an incredibly flawed hitter who isn’t even competitive against quality pitching.

        If anything, his personality allows him to get away with bullshit that others wouldnt. It’s why his followers want to bow at his feet when he hits a first pitch homer down 3, with 2 outs in the 9th, rather than acknowledge how fundamentally idiotic it was for him to even be swinging. Nicks a real swell guy, but he’s a shit “baseball player”, and anyone with a shred of objectivity or baseball knowledge is able to acknowledge that.

        • Cliff

          Absurd. You don’t want him to swing at meatballs when the team is down by 3?

    • bonestock94

      I don’t see it. He’s a solid RFer with a good bat. Frankly, when people say the Yankees shouldn’t pick up his option I can’t help but think they’re either dumb or completely ignorant of statistics.

  • bankers hours

    Swisher’s regular season was more than satisfactory and plenty good enough to justify picking up his option. That said he has been God awful in the post season as has been Tex and Arod except for 2009. You can never predict how good a player will play under pressure situations and can only hope if he gets enough chances a player like Swisher will relax and finally come through in the post season. I don’t like his defense or post season performance but his power numbers and obp justify the option. Pick it up.

  • Rookie

    I’d pick up the option, sign his replacement, and trade him before the post season.

    Even if he turns it around in the post season after the Yankees trade him, I suspect that the only reason he turned it around was that they traded him. It’s possible that he could turn it around going forward in the post season, but I’d hate to rely on it.

    • bonestock94

      Who’s his replacement? Carlos Beltran for a ton of years, paying a high price for his decline? You can’t rely on anything relating to his postseason performance, 147 plate appearances have no predictive value and are subject to crazy variations. The only thing you can expect from his postseason numbers are for them to approach his career line as his PAa increase.

  • Kosmo

    Swisher had 3 excellent months and 3 piss poor months. He hit .205 in September. 8-68 .118 average 2 outs RISP which adds to his career .212 average with 2 outs RISP. Career postseason to date has been horrendous.
    Pick up his option and trade him if the right deal comes along otherwise no harm in seeing how he responds on his walk year.