Throughout Major League Baseball, Nick Swisher has been underrated for much of his career. With the exception of when he played in the large media market of New York, not many national writers have given Swisher the recognition he has deserved.
Quietly, he has been reliably good for a very long time. Since 2006, he’s played 145 or more games per season, hit over 20 home runs, and walked enough to make the Kevin Youkilis, the "Greek god of walks", look like only a demi-god. Although he only earned a .246 AVG in 2013, he can still be counted on to provide consistency to the lineup in 2014.
Nick Swisher: Mr. Consistency
Last season, Swisher dealt with a shoulder injury that he suffered early in the season and re-aggravated in June. That, combined with age, probably explains his career low .177 isolated power. There is a lot of varying information on the internet about the shoulder injury, so it’s unclear if it’s fully healed or something that could continue to dog him in future seasons. Swisher recently turned 33-years-old, so he is entering the portion of his career where his durability might become an issue.
Aside from the shoulder issue, Swisher makes a very boring study. The available data fail to suggest any noteworthy changes in his profile. His fly ball distance remained a robust 295 feet in 2013 (294 in 2012), which ranked him between Evan Longoria and Anthony Rizzo for the 40th best distance. His fly ball, ground ball, and line drive rates have been practically unchanged for the past three seasons. He is whiffing slightly more frequently these last two seasons, but his strikeout rate was only slightly higher than his career averages. Other avenues of analysis like PITCHf/x failed to reveal any new information.
ZIPS, a projection system used by Fangraphs, projects a useful .247/.342/.410 line with 18 home runs, 66 runs, and 66 RBI. The runs scored and RBI totals depend on how the Indians use Swisher. With his healthy on base and slugging percentages, he could score more frequently at the top of the lineup or drive in more runs if batting in the middle of the order. He was frequently used as the second hitter in 2013, so expect him to score more runs this season.
There were many who questioned how much money the Indians gave Swisher last season. However, could they have uncovered a market inefficiency: the consistent veteran?