As of this morning, Nick Swisher was tied with Ben Zobrist for the lead in Fangraphs WAR among AL right fielders, at 3.0 wins above replacement. A legitimate argument can be made that Swisher has been the best right fielder in the AL thus far in 2010. Joe over at RAB made an interesting observation last night that I thought touched upon the source of Swisher’s success:
If I didn’t know better I’d think that Nick Swisher has a chance to hit .300 this year. It looks like he can hit anything up there. He looked especially good in the third when he waited back on a curveball and served it back into center for a base hit.
Swisher has looked more comfortable at the plate in 2010 than he did in 2009, no longer simply waiting out pitchers hoping for a mistake. He is swinging more frequently than in the past at pitches both inside and outside the zone, but has not seen an increase in his swinging strike percentage. Rather, he is simply making more and better contact, with an elevated LD% to show for it. Furthermore, as Joe noted, he is showing a better ability to deal with breaking pitches, as evidenced by his greatly improved numbers against sliders, cutters, and curves. He has been a quite a bit worse against changeups, but that might be expected for someone who is being a lot more aggressive than in the past.
It is important to note that Swisher’s BABIP is sky high and even with his increased LD%, he is due for a regression. However, his new approach has already paid handsome dividends, and unless he collapses entirely he will finish the year with very strong numbers. He is definitely one of the better right fielders in the American League. What’s Wilson Betemit up to?
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