The Yankees fleeced the White Sox when they traded an inconsistent infielder and two not so promising prospects for Nick Swisher after the 2008 season. The idea at the time was that he was going to replace Jason Giambi at first base, but the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira a little more than a month later and Swish has been the starting right fielder ever since.
EXPECTATIONS: Based on Swisher’s first two season in the Bronx it was more than fair to expect another season where he would play 150 games, put up a .360 OBP and a .850 OPS while playing solid defense. He has never been expected to carry the Yankees offense, but he’s often been one of the best No. 6 hitters in baseball.
SLOW START: From the start of the season until May 28th, Swisher was ice cold. His patience at the plate was consistent as usual, but his batting average dropped to .206 over his first 46 games, pulling his OPS down to a lowly .609. The Yankees were just 24-22 over that span.
A HOME RUN IN SEATTLE: Swisher homered on May 29th in Seattle and that turned his entire season around. In his final 104 games last year he had a hearty .397 OBP and a .916 OPS. The Yankees were 65-39 in that stretch, it pays to have a good No. 6 hitter.
NO MR. OCTOBER HERE: Swisher once again had a tough October. In five games against the Tigers he had a .250 OBP and a .618 OPS. In 38 career playoff games his OBP is down to .295 and OPS is .617.
VERDICT: Swisher makes a big difference in the Yankees success when he is going well. Just look at how the team did early when he struggled and how well the played when he started rolling. Some fans were being absurd when they suggested the Yankees don’t pick up his option. There are some 90 starting outfielders in baseball and Swisher easily ranks in the top 20 of those.
The biggest knock on him is his playoff success, or lack of it. To that I say – there is a reason we don’t pick the MVP’s in May. Over a short sample size anything can happen. Eventually with enough at bats even Swisher will settle down and go on a nice stat correcting tear. We’ve seen glimpses of it. Back in 2006 he had a very strong ALDS for Oakland. Again in 2010 he put up big numbers in the ALDS against the Twins. He just has to get and sustain some success and that .617 OPS will shoot back up.
GOING FORWARD: Swisher has is playing on the final year of his contract that will pay him $10.25 million. After a three-year deal is not out of the question. He’ll be 32-years-old and no other very attractive options are hitting the market, especially if the Yankees want to get under a $189 million payroll. Based on what Josh Willingham just got from the Twins and what the rumors surrounding Michael Cuddyer are, a three-year $33 million deal sounds about right. Of course, that could change if the Yankees land Yoenis Cespedes this offseason.