Monday, September 27, 2010

Thankfully, We Have Nick Swisher

(This post was written a few weeks ago, but didn't get posted for a variety of reasons. However, it is probably only more true now. Quick not from tonight: the Yankees only have themselves to blame if they don't make the playoffs or win the division. Tampa Bay and Boston have not played good baseball and the Yankees have just played worse. Most recently they've lost 5 of 6. Their magic number in the Wild Card is 1 and they are 0.5 games back in the division. If they had played just two games better and gone 3-3 in this stretch they'd have clinched a playoff spot and been 1.5 up on the division with 5 games to play, 6 for Tampa Bay. Terrible.)

The Yankees have Nick Swisher, this we know. But the question you have to ask is, where would they be in 2010 if they didn't?

At age 29 Swisher is so far having the best year of his career. If the season ended today he'd set career highs in average, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. His walk-off homer yesterday was just one in a season full of a hits in big spots. In high leverage situations this year, Swisher is hitting .329/.400/.605/1.005, all numbers that are better than his season averages. Clearly he's been at his best when it's mattered most, which is saying something considering how good he's been on the whole.

It's not just that the 2010 Yankees have Nick Swisher, it's that they have THIS Nick Swisher. The pre-2010 version was a very good and productive one. But this one is a star. His .886 OPS is 21st in all of baseball. He's been one of the better bats in the game this year, better than he's ever been before in large part because he worked his tail off last winter. He spent time with Yankees' hitting coach Kevin Long revamping his swing, and has implemented those changes. He lost weight so that he would be better in game and better prepared for the long season. It's always great to see hard work pay off.

Nobody has benefited more from this version of Nick Swisher more than the Yankees. I'm not about to go out and say that they would be much worse off with the old one instead of this one. But I am going to say that I don't think they'd be in exactly the same spot. I'm not sure what the numbers say, but while Rodriguez wasn't himself, Teixeira wasn't hitting for the first two months of the season, Jeter was having the worst year of his career (by far), Posada was injured, Granderson was off to a slow start and then injured, and Nick Johnson was injured, Nick Swisher just kept on raking. As great as Robinson Cano has been this year, and he's been the other rock in this lineup along with Swisher, he's had the standard cold stretches. Swisher has been so consistent he hasn't really even had that. From May 3 until today, a period of over 4 months, Swisher's average has been somewhere between .287 and .318. A majority of that time was spent just below or above .300. This from a player who is know for anything but his batting average. Brett Gardner has been good as well, but he's more of a role player and has had some more extreme cold streaks.

With all of those injuries and underperformances for stretches of the season, I'm not sure where the Yankees would be without Nick Swisher this year. I'm just glad we don't have to find out. This is a general sentiment I've heard from a number of other fans, and rightfully so, he's having an outstanding season. To top it all off, he's providing all of this production, stability, and reliability for the bargain price of $6.85 million. The Yankees get a lot of attention for all of their big-money spending. But Swisher is a bigtime value play, and he's one of the biggest reasons they are where they are this season.

1 comment:

Ross Kaplan said...

No argument from me on Swisher's value this season, he's been fantastic. Someone who has been less than fantastic - the one, the only, the man with the electric stuff AJ Burnett. I don't care whose catching for him, Posada, Cervelli, Yogi or hell even Munson this guy is horrendous. After CC this team has two very big question marks one guy whose made two starts, one decent one at least since July the other whose awfully close to his prescribed innings limit and who has been awfully shaky lately. Basically, I don't like this team's chances in a 5-game series or any kind of playoff series for that matter.