What to Expect from Swisher

The signing is complete and there is no looking back now, Nick Swisher is an Indian and will be one through 2016 (possibly 2017). At this point everyone knows that he will be making $56M over those first four seasons with an option for the fifth. What we don't know is what he will produce.

The first thing to discuss is Swisher's age. He is going to be 32 in 2013 and playing in his tenth professional season. He has been incredibly durable over that time, averaging more than 150 games since 2006. He has produced at a pretty even level throughout that time, but did have a notable peak in 2009 and 2010 (age 28 and 29 seasons). It is likely that he will continue to slow as he ages, with his numbers dropping all over the board. Don't expect more than 20 home runs from Swisher again or a batting average over .275.

The second thing to look at is the Yankee effect. Simply by being on the Yankees, playing with that short right field and batting before or after some of the greatest hitters in baseball history can do a lot to help your stats. This is one of the reasons players can't be evaluated using regular statistics as these numbers won't correlate to other teams. 

Since 2008 (the year before the Yankees bought a World Series), the Yankees have had five starting players leave the team and go on to play elsewhere. These players, Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera and Hideki Matsui, all had significant trends in their numbers after leaving New York. While most of these players were older than Swisher and past their prime when they left, the fact that Cabrera is included and has the same trends shows that it isn't simply a matter of age.

Averaging together each players three final years with the Yankees and first three years away from New York, it is easy to see the difference. On an average, each player lost 22 RBI and 22 runs per season, the most important stats to note, because they have the smallest basis in actual talent. The extra base hits that have lowered have to do with the aging players and the park factors more than the actual lineup around them. 

The most important individual player to look at is Melky Cabrera, because he is the exception where he actually improved as a hitter after leaving the Yankees. He has since played with Atlanta and Kansas City, most recently won a batting title (unofficially) with the Giants. The best seasons to compare are Cabrera's second full season in 2007 and his 2011 year with the Royals. Each year he played around 150 games, but in 2011 he hit ten more home runs and batted over .300 for the first time. Despite these amazing improvements he only knocked in 14 more runs (making him the only player to actually average more RBI after leaving the Yankees than before). 

The Yankees buy players, use them up and throw them away. It has been their team strategy for more than a decade and looks only to be increasing in severity. They want to win the World Series in 2013, just like they do every year and if they thought Swisher could have helped them, they could have afforded to resign him. As a 30+ year old outfielder, Swisher's numbers will more likely resemble Abreu and Damon rather than Cabrera. It's too late to do anything, but play him, but everyone should temper their excitement now, or risk wanting the home town kid's head when next summer comes around. The combination of age and leaving the Yankees look to smack Swisher back to reality, so expect numbers closer to 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 50 runs scored. These are still good numbers compared to the average Indian in 2012, but simply don't seem worth more than $56 million.

Oh, yeah. Merry Swishmas.

Here are the numbers for those who want to check my math:

Abreu G AB R H 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG   Cabrera G AB R H 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG
2006 156 548 98 163 41 15 107 .297 .424 .462   2007 150 545 66 149 24 8 73 .273 .327 .391
2007 158 605 123 171 40 16 101 .283 .369 .445   2008 129 414 42 103 12 8 37 .249 .301 .341
2008 156 609 100 180 39 20 100 .296 .371 .471   2009 154 485 66 133 28 13 68 .274 .336 .416
Y-AVG 157 587 107 171 40 17 103 .292 .388 .459   Y-AVG 144 481 58 128 21 10 59 .267 .321 .385
2009 162 563 96 165 29 15 103 .293 .390 .435   2010 147 458 50 117 27 4 42 .255 .317 .354
2010 165 573 88 146 41 20 78 .255 .352 .435   2011 155 658 102 201 44 18 87 .305 .339 .470
2011 142 502 54 127 30 8 60 .253 .353 .365   2012 113 459 84 159 25 11 60 .346 .390 .516
O-AVG 156 546 79 146 33 14 80 .267 .365 .413   O-AVG 138 525 79 159 32 11 63 .303 .349 .450
                                             
Giambi G AB R H 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG   Matsui G AB R H 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG
2006 139 446 92 113 25 37 113 .253 .413 .558   2007 143 547 100 156 28 25 103 .183 .367 .488
2007 83 254 31 60 8 14 39 .236 .356 .433   2008 93 337 43 99 17 9 45 .128 .370 .424
2008 145 458 68 113 19 32 96 .247 .373 .502   2009 142 456 62 125 21 28 90 .136 .367 .509
Y-AVG 122 386 64 95 17 28 83 .247 .381 .509   Y-AVG 126 447 68 127 22 21 79 .284 .368 .479
2009 102 293 43 59 14 13 51 .201 .343 .382   2010 145 482 55 132 24 21 84 .114 .361 .459
2010 87 176 17 43 9 6 35 .244 .378 .398   2011 141 517 58 130 28 12 72 .112 .321 .375
2011 64 131 20 34 6 13 32 .260 .355 .603   2012 34 95 7 14 1 2 7 .074 .214 .221
O-AVG 84 200 27 45 10 11 39 .227 .359 .435   O-AVG 107 365 40 92 18 12 54 .252 .299 .399
                                             
Damon G AB R H 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG   Total G AB R H 2B HR RBI BA OBP SLG
2007 141 533 93 144 27 12 63 .270 .351 .396   Y-AVG 138 489 79 135 26 19 79 .277 .364 .454
2008 143 555 95 168 27 17 71 .303 .375 .461   O-AVG 121 416 57 111 23 11 57 .268 .338 .418
2009 143 550 107 155 36 24 82 .282 .365 .489                        
Y-AVG 142 546 98 156 30 18 72 .285 .364 .449   Y-AVG Three Year Average With Yankees  
2010 145 539 81 146 36 8 51 .271 .355 .401   O-AVG Three Year Average With Other Team  
2011 150 582 79 152 29 16 73 .261 .326 .418                        
2012 64 207 25 46 6 4 19 .222 .281 .329                        
O-AVG 120 443 62 115 24 9 48 .259 .321 .397                        

 

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

Quantcast