Friday, July 23, 2010

Swisher's Sweet Season

posted by 3FingersBrown
At the age of 30, Yankee class-clown and dude-brah supreme, Nick Swisher has been enjoying a career year. Making his first all-star team on the back of a goofy promo, it's easy to forget how damn good he's been. While you could file Swish's performance under "player put into position to succeed, succeeds," the guy still has to put wood on the ball and that he's done at a career best pace. Currently Swisher's sitting on a solid 17HR/61R/56RBI/.303/.371 line.

Sure Swisher regularly hits in one of the most enviable slots in baseball - second in the fearsome Yankee order - behind Derek Jeter and in front of a fearsome threesome of Texiera, A-Rod and Cano. We know that studies have shown that protection in the batting order is largely a myth, but who would you rather take your chances with out of that group of hitters? If you're an opposing pitcher, do you really want to walk the eagle-eyed Swisher with those three sluggers looming? That goes a long way towards Swisher's seeing more strikes, but a player still has to make the most of his opportunities and he's done that.

What's been the secret of Swisher's success? One word: Contact. Currently posting a career high 82.6% contact rate (77.2% lifetime), the switch-hitter, known better for taking walks than taking the ball to all fields, he's driving the ball like never before - his 21.6% line drive rate (also a career best, next to his lifetime 18.9% rate) is testament to that. Swisher himself attributes a great deal of that improved contact to work he did in the off-season with Yankee hitting coach, Kevin Long. While he's hardly quieted down outside the batters box, at the plate Swisher's quieted down the seemingly constant motion that he used to display while at bat and his decreased motion has paid off big time.

Swisher has always shown power (career .218 ISO) and he continues to do so (.233), while not at the stunning rate he showed last season (.249). His increased batting average will more than make up for that though. While fantasy pundits and opponents alike have screamed "regression," I find little cause to think that Swisher's final tally will stray too far from his .303 rate. Some might say that this is an aberration but there's plenty of signs pointing to perfect storm of success for the Yankee rightfielder. Good players make adjustments and it seems Swish has done just that.

Some will look at his career low 9.8% walk rate as a sign of hard times to come, but I'll counter with a full-season's best 22.2% K rate. Simply put, Swisher's locked into pitches in the strike zone and driving the balls he's supposed to drive. A late round steal in most leagues, Sweet Swish has been paying big dividends despite the naysayers and I think he'll continue to do so going forward in 2010.


Blogger Jon Williams said...

Good stuff, Swisher is one of my favorites. He is one of those guys that makes it obvious he enjoys his job. He is fun to root for and a great addition to an fantasy team.

Friday, July 23, 2010 at 10:33:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous 3FingersBrown said...

Yeah he gets little props in fantasy circles but just keeps hitting. I was skeptical when he started off hot and couldn't give him away in an OBP league. Now I'm happy to hold onto him. His CI eligibility held over from last year is a nice bonus for added roster flexibility.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 4:04:00 PM EDT  

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