Nick Swisher is ready to rock Cleveland. After four quietly terrific seasons in New York, Swisher is now taking his laughter and baseball delight to a dugout where he will be teamed up with old Yankee nemesis, Terry Francona. Swisher reminds me of cats--you either love him or hate him. The word, "douche" seems to come up a lot on Twitter from baseball fans and writers who have not had Swisher play on their teams. But for those who have, Swisher is a great big old fun machine. And he is going to have fun in Cleveland.
Frankly, I have never understood the hatred of Nick Swisher. I can probably understand if you are a White Sox fan simply because Swisher did not perform well there and did not fit in with their fiery manager at the time. And it is one thing to dislike him in Chicago for his performance in his one season there and perhaps even in New York for his post season letdowns. But how can you not like that guy as a baseball playing human being?
Nick Swisher plays like he has the best job in the world. And, gosh, he does have the best job in the world. Instead of acting like he is suffering because of his fame, Swisher embraces it and the fans and puts smiles on people's faces. He also did a pile of charity work in New York during his years there thus showing that he appreciates what he has been given and has given back.
What is really different between the way Swisher enjoys the game and say, Jose Reyes? Is it because Reyes has a toothier smile? Baseball is a game and it should be fun and I do not understand anyone for being hated for enjoying the ride. He gets excited when his team does well. Shouldn't he? Is that showboating or a good team guy? He points to the sky when he doubles or homers. Is that a showboat or someone who has made a point of honoring those who came before him?
Hate on Nick Swisher if you will, but from this seat, the guy is what baseball is all about.
With all that said, what kind of player is Nick Swisher going to be in Cleveland and away from the bright lights of the Bronx? I can't see him being much different than he has been in the last four years. His WAR might take a one win hit because of playing first base more than right field this season. But he has been very consistent offensively. His wOBA has been over .360 for five out of this last six seasons.
Nick Swisher is what you dream about when it comes to patience at the plate. His O-swing level has risen slightly in the last three seasons, but is still well below league average and his total swing percentage of 36.7% is very low and has been consistent throughout his career. Both of his last two seasons have also seen a rise in his line drive percentage, though that is a volatile statistic that is hard to predict.
And yet, his projections all predict his wOBA will be under .360 with only the Fans being close at .359. Heck, ZiPS has him finishing at .337. That is simply too pessimistic for what Swisher has done in his career. ZiPS also assigns him a .175 ISO for 2013. Swisher has never been below .188 in that department...ever. So why is his power going to dry up? Because he is playing in Cleveland? And Cleveland is a tougher park than Yankee Stadium?
Well, it is. But Swisher's ISO has remained consistent throughout his career and that included years in Oakland which makes Cleveland look like the Great American Ballpark.
Here's what I predict. Nick Swisher is older and wiser. He does have his hot and cold streaks, but his patience at the plate is streak proof. He will have freedom to be himself with Terry Francona in the clubhouse. He is going to have a blast. He is going to hit 25 to 30 homers, drive in from 85 to 95 runs and have an on-base percentage over .360. His wOBA and ISO will be at career levels or higher. Again, if he plays first base because of the positional difference between right field and first, he will lose anywhere from a half a win to a win in WAR. But otherwise, he'll be Nick Swisher.
Indians fans are really going to enjoy Nick Swisher. He was loved in New York (at least until the post season) and he was loved for a reason. The guy simply puts a smile on your face if he plays for your team and not only that, he produces year after year. Have fun, Cleveland and enjoy the Nick Swisher Experience.