Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nick Swisher: Counterpoint

AK's dislike of Nick Swisher is well-known and well-documented. He even admits that its largely baseless. But in this piece, he makes some claims about Nick Swisher that I would like a brief moment to refute.

AK's piece essentially claims the following:

(1) Swisher is a tool
(2) Swisher talks like an idiot
(3) Swisher is bad at baseball (as evidenced by a low batting average and propensity to strike out).

As I've argued before, I think Nick Swisher is a decent ball player. I'll start with some value metrics, courtesy of Fangraphs.

Since his full-season debut in 2005, Swisher has accrued 13.5 Wins Above Replacement, a performance worth approximately $54.4M (using Fangraph's Win-to-Dollar conversion ratios). Here is the year-by-year breakdown, with value in parentheses.

2005 - 2.2 ($7.5M)
2006 - 3.1 ($11.6M)
2007 - 3.6 ($14.7M)
2008 - 1.0 ($4.6M)
2009 - 3.5 ($15.9M)

Swisher is currently signed to a 5 year, $26.75M contract, structured as follows:

2007 - $0.7M
2008 - $3.5M
2009 - $5.3M
2010 - $6.75M
2011 - $9M

As you can see, Swisher has clearly been worth more than the value of his contract so far. From 2007 to 2009, his salary has totaled $9.5M, and Fangraphs estimates that the value of his performance has been worth $35.92M. Not too shabby.

This brings me to my central point, which is that Swisher is a very valuable player despite his low batting average and propensity to strike out.

In 2009, Swisher's tripleslash was .249/.371/.498, an OPS of .869, which is slightly below Andre Ethier and Derek Jeter, and slightly higher than Michael Cuddyer, Victor Martinez and Nelson Cruz. He also hit 29 home runs and knocked in 84 RBI. When you combine this with a UZR that has typically ranged from 3.0 to -2.1, you have yourself a fairly valuable right fielder, and a tremendous #8 hitter on the Yankees.

I'm not saying that Swisher will ever be in the Hall of Fame, or that he should ever be considered as such. But his low batting average masks the fact that he gets on-base at a fantastic clip and hits for power.

Both CHONE and Bill James project that Swisher's 2010 performance will mirror his 2009 performance:

James - 26 HR, 85 RBI, .247/.365/.467 (.832 OPS)
CHONE - 27 HR, 80 RBI, .248/.367/.467 (.834 OPS)

I'll take that all day, thank you. Swisher is an undervalued, and underappreciated player. Williams' failure to comprehend BABIP, and thus failure to understand that Swisher was unlucky and due for a bounceback in 2009, was a boon for the Yankees. I want to thank him one more time for trading him to us. How's Wilson Betemit working out for you?

Oh yeah.

Swisher FTW.


  1. Question:

    If you can think back to before 'Swish' came to be with the Yankees, what was your opinion then?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Deleted my comment because it was grammatically confusing.

    I thought of him as a low BA, high power, Moneyball-type player.

    I guess you're implying that I like him only because he's a Yankee. But I'm not saying that I like him, per se. Im saying that he's a valuable player. I'd feel the same way if he was on the Red Sox, I would just hate him.