After last night’s game, in which he went 1-4 with a walk, Nick Swisher has batted in the two spot in the lineup in 18 games. That matches his season high of 18 games in the number six spot in the lineup. Let’s compare his numbers in these two spots–obviously small sample sizes–and see if we can spot any differences.
As 2: .267/.375/.493/.868, 4 HR, 13 BB, 15 SO in 88 PA, 75 AB
As 6: .286/.357/.460/.817, 2 HR, 6 BB, 16 SO in 71 PA, 63 AB
The first thing that jumps out at me is the BB/K rate. In the six hole, we see Swisher with a .375 BB/K, well below his career average of .650 (league average about .500). In the two hole, we see an excellent BB/K of .867, which is more of the game we’re used to seeing from Swish. Clearly, his walk rate is higher behind Derek Jeter, 14.77%, than it is against Robinson Cano, 8.45%. As a six hitter, though, we see Swisher’s making a bit more contact, as evidenced by the .286 average. Granted, the difference between .267 and .286 isn’t big at all.
Next, we see that as the second hitter, Swisher is hitting for much more power: .226 IsoP vs. a .174 IsoP as the sixth hitter; his career average is .217. Again, though, a .174 IsoP is good as well, as are all of Swisher’s numbers in the six spot. If he put up those numbers for a whole year, I think we’d be satisfied. But I digress…
Like I’ve alluded to, we can see a difference in Swisher’s approach depending on where he’s batting in the lineup. In the sixth spot, we see more of his new approach: shortening up and making contact. In the second spot, we see more of the traditional Swisher approach: taking walks and hitting for power. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell us that Nick changes how he hits based on his role during each game. As the two hitter, he’s obviously looking to set the table for the guys in back of him and as the sixth hitter, he was looking to make contact and collect hits to drive in the guys in front of him.
Nick Swisher has always been a solid Major League hitter and this shows us that he’s definitely a mature hitter who knows the game and himself well. When the situation has called for it, he’s changed his approach a bit and adapted to the situation. But, that doesn’t mean that he’s lost the great on base and power skills that have made him into successful major leaguer.
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