As a fan, streaky hitters are one of the most aggravating facets of baseball. It seems inexplicable how a guy can carry a team one month and be an anchor the next. Nick Swisher, right now, is an absolute anchor. It’s come to the point where the Angels will walk every hitter before him to get to Slumpy McSwingsandmissesalot. Swish is no longer his nickname, but the sound the ball makes as it passes by his bat. Yankee fans have had to deal with this in the past, of course, with Bernie Williams, but that’s not much of a consolation. Right now, he’s absolutely killing us, while tomorrow, we could be tossing laurels at him.
How streaky is this guy? How quickly can he flip ends? Just look at his first two months. Keep in mind that the month-by-month stats, if anything, wind up smoothing out the bumps, as a hot streak in the beginning of one month could ameliorate the slump at the end. Even so, the monthly stats show an absurd amount of variance between them. Streaky? Just look at his first two months: April OPS: 1.144. May OPS: .586!!! What the heck happened in May? Did they start putting kryptonite into the balls? His next several months are like a roller coaser ride: .885, .777, .878, .949, .741 and, of course, a playoff OPS of .350 (yech!).
Is this season representative of Swisher’s streakiness? You bet it is. Check out his 2008 monthly stats: .701, .547, 1.032, .676, .876, .546. Contrast these numbers to Derek Jeter’s stats this year: .807, .870, .808, .902, .970, .824. No month has more than .150 difference between it and the next. Swisher, on the other hand, has months that vary more than .600 points!! Reaching further back, Nick has always had multiple months in the .500 & .600 ranges and other months above 1.000. Even the notoriously slow starting Bernie Williams would rarely have any months below .800 in his prime years.
When will he snap out of his funk? It’s impossible to tell. He has shown the ability to turn things around very, very quickly, but the nature of the postseason might make it more difficult for him to accomplish this. As one of the most patient hitters in all of baseball, he is completely incapable of expanding his hitting zone with any success. The stress of the playoffs sometimes pushes players to attempt to do more than they can and this might be part of what is maintaining Nick’s current run of bad form. Once he starts trying to do too much, he’s completely helpless against the very good hurlers the Angels have. He has to stay within himself and not press. If he can do that, he still has a chance to be a big contributor.
Rumors are now flying (see here) that Swisher could or should be benched. If not benched, he may also be moved down in the order in favor of the streaking Melky Cabrera. Nick maintains that, “It takes one swing to get back on track… It’s one of those things where you want to do well, but it just hasn’t happened. Sometime it’s going to happen.” What do you guys think? Should he sit in favor of Gardner? Should he be moved down in the order, or should Joe just sit tight and hope that the slump is about to end?
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