After his two home runs last night, Nick Swisher is now at .254/.378/.506, with 26 home runs and 4.31 pitches per plate appearance. He is having great at-bats, making consistently solid contact, and fielding his position adequately, with a UZR of 2.7 in the OF. The Swisher acquisition was a coup for Brian Cashman and his staff, and as Marc Carig notes, Swisher’s turnaround is not all that surprising:
His line drive rate in 2008 was a career-high 20.9 percent. Based on that figure, his expected batting average for balls in play was .329, which would have been a just reward for hitting the ball hard. But instead, even though he pounded the baseball, Swisher’s BABIP was a criminally low .251, a number that can be attributed to lots of terrible luck.
So, despite the fact that his walk rates and strikeout rates were roughly the same in 2008 as they were compared to the rest of his career, Swisher’s productivity went into the tank, thus earning himself a one-way ticket out of the Windy City……
According to Fangraphs, Swisher’s line drive rate this season is 16.5, which is actually a dropoff from his miserable 2008 campaign. But unlike last year, there is virtually no difference between his expected BABIP (.285) and his actual BABIP (.286).
In other words, even though he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he did in ’08, Swisher is getting exactly what he deserves for the contact that he is making.
That’s the biggest difference from last season, when Swisher’s productivity was sapped by a 78-point difference between his actual BABIP (.251) and his projected BABIP (.329), a disparity that led to Swisher’s deceivingly low .219 average.
Swisher was incredibly unlucky last season, something that was unlikely to happen again. Brian Cashman nabbed Swish for Wilson Betemit and two middling prospects, and Nick unsurprisingly reverted to the player he had always been in Oakland. Now he is closing in on 30 home runs, has an OBP over .370, and has been surprisingly good with the glove lately. Not bad for a player many Yankees fans were calling a 4th outfielder at the end of May.
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