Nick Swisher started off 2011 pretty poorly. I remember him driving in some runs in April, but the rest of it wasn’t so great. He had a nice .340 OBP, but his SLG was terrible at .286 (.060 IsoP). From May 1 on however, Swisher’s been hitting like his old self. His line since: .271/.385/.470/.855. Nick’s career line? .253/.359/.465/.824 So after a disastrous start to the year, he’s hitting like a slightly better version of himself.
His 2011 line is starting to look like his career line, too. In fact, parts of it are a little better. He’s got a .260/.374/.423 line with a .352 wOBA/120 wRC+ (.356/117 career). He’s also got a slightly lower strikeout rate–18.8 in 2011, 21.2% career–and slightly higher walk rate–15.3 vs 13.4. The only thing yet to catch up is the power.
Swisher’s SLG is low at .423. If we compare it to the average AL RF , we see that Swisher is trailing by just a bit (.006). In terms of raw power, though (IsoP), Swisher’s .163 mark matches up exactly with the league average. But, that’s still below his career mark of .212, which is great. Why not?
At first glance, it would appear that Swisher isn’t driving the ball all that much. He’s sustained his high line-drive rate from last year, but his GB% is up and his FB% is down. Not only is his FB% down, but his HR/FB% is also down almost four percentage points from his career mark. So not only is he not putting as many balls in the air (which would lead to more XBH), but when he does, he’s not driving it with the same authority that we’re used to from Swisher. Is there a possibility that this could change?
If we go look at the sampe size section of the library over at FanGraphs, we can see that HR/FB tends to stabilize at 300 plate appearances. Swish is well past that at 404 PAs, so I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll see a big uptick in HR rate from Swisher, but he’s prone to some crazy hot streaks (look at June of this year) so perhaps we can hold out a little hope. He may not be doing it like he did last year, but Swisher’s finding his power stroke and taking a bunch of walks just like he used to. Despite what was a putrid April, Swisher is still having himself a fine season.
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