Late last month, I took a look at the slow start Nick Swisher was off to. He had seemingly reverted to an approach he used in 2010, but the results were obviously no where near the same as they were in 2010. However, after the disaster that was May for Nick–.242 wOBA, 42 wRC+–June has seen Swisher looking a bit more like himself.
In the small sample that has been Swisher’s June, ten games and 32 plate appearances, we’ve seen a mostly normal Nick. His walk rate has been a more Swisher-like 15.8% after a disastrous 4.3 mark in May and his Iso has climbed from .115 in May to .188 so far in June. Those are the things we’ve always expected and seen from Swisher: lots of walks and a lot of power. Last year, Swisher started slowly and heated up in May before cruising the rest of the way. This year, he was scorching in April and cooled considerably in May. Hopefully, this is the start of a hot streak for Swish.
There is, though, one odd thing that still needs to be corrected. For his career, Nick Swisher has absolutely hammered left handed pitching. His wOBA against southpaws checks in at .372 and his wRC+ against them is 128. This year, however, he’s been baffled by lefties; they’ve held Swisher to a gag-inducing .263 wOBA/58 (!) wRC+ split. So, I went over to Texas Leaguers to check the spray charts…
Here are Nick’s numbers against lefties this year and here are his numbers against lefties from last year. The first thing that popped out at me was the stark difference in the spray charts. This year, Swisher’s seemingly been trying to spray the ball all over the place as a right handed batter. While this is usually an admirable approach, we’ve seen it not work for everyone (Mark Teixeira, anyone?). If we look at the 2011 spray chart, we see Swisher pulling the ball a lot more against southpaws. Last year, Swisher had a .412 wOBA/159 wRC+ against lefties. Swisher is definitely at his best when he’s pulling the ball. Check out these dueling tables:
Swish has shown some power to left this year, but that’s only because two of his four dead pull hits are homers and on is a double. He’s just about the same going up the middle, but he’s just not pulling the ball quite enough. For his career, Swisher has pulled the ball in 10.11% of his plate appearances. This year, it’s been 8.89%. That doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but in the small sample we’ve got of this season, we’ve seen a drop in production from Swisher. Like I said, everyone likes to try to hit to all fields, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be successful doing it. Perhaps Swish, could start pulling the ball more.
If we look at the TL pages and look for some causes, I think we can find some in the way he’s been pitched. In both 2011 and 2012, Swisher has seen mostly fastballs and changeups. However, the results have been different. With both pitches, Swisher has swung more and missed more. What I find most interesting, though, is the foul% on changeups. Last year, it was pretty low at 7.8%. This year, it’s been 15.8%. This is a bit of conjecture, but I think it’s fairly reasonable given the spray chart: perhaps Swisher is trying to wait on the changeup too much, trying to take it to right, instead of jumping on it and pulling it and his timing is off. The same could be said with his swing and miss rate at fastballs; perhaps he’s late on them and that’s causing him to swing and miss. June has seen everything turn in the right direction and hopefully his performance against lefties follows suit.
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