By Joe Cooper @joeRantSports on April 25, 2014
Not to say the first baseman has little worth, but however you slice it, Nick Swisher’s most productive seasons are in the rearview mirror. A slow start to his 2014 campaign at the plate and in the field mirrors his regression from last year. While we can’t expect anymore .288/.359/.511 seasons while plating 29 homers, we should at least be anticipating a .250-.260 average with double digit walk percentages.
Although Cleveland has a slight advantage for left-handed hitters with a 105 HR park factor, the 325-feet down the right field line is nothing compared to Yankees Stadium's 113 HR park factor, 100 being average. With a 314-foot distance to the right field fence, Yankees hitters, especially lefties, benefit from the offensively supportive dimensions. It would be unrealistic to think Swisher would improve his stock offensively leaving New York.
I generally don’t have a problem with elevated strikeout totals as long as power hitters are able to maintain a higher slugging percentage. Swisher has done just that, dropping in power and jumping up to a 25 percent strikeout percentage. In his most recent game, Swish continued off the beaten path going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Thursday’s 5-1 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Perhaps the ugliest statistic of Swisher’s current output has been a 16.7 percent in field fly percentage. Weakly hit balls in the infield are never an encouraging sign from a supposed power hitting switch-hitter.
Since his best season in 2010, Swisher has been on a steady decline hitting for power, despite squeezing out 22 home runs in 2013. His first season with the Tribe saw his SLG fall from .473 down to .423 and isolated power dropping from .201 to .177. In 22 games this season the first baseman is wavering again with a .318 SLG and .114 ISO. To add insult to injury, the 33-year-old’s home run to fly ball ratio has dropped from 13.7% to 6.7% in 2014.
On the wrong side of 30, Swisher is inching closer to 35 years of age. If the last three seasons tell us anything, it might suggest that this 33-year-old is not aging well, with decaying ability. Not to seem over dramatic about his youth, but typically baseball players peak around 27-32 years old. To Swisher’s credit, one attribute that will only get stronger is his clubhouse presence, bringing his larger than life personality to the park.
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