Not time to lose faith in Swisher
by Kelsey O’Donnell
I was thrown questions left and right these first two months of the 2011 season about Nick Swisher. Will he ever bounce back? Will the Yankees trade for Carlos Beltran? What will happen to right field next year when (that’s right, when) the Yankees decline Swisher’s option?
I can’t blame everyone for asking these questions. Swisher’s offense was horrifying the first two months of the season. He managed to stay over the mendoza line, but his batting averaged kept sinking and sinking. I, however, was not ready to throw away what he produced for the Yankees in 2009 and his career year in 2010. I stood by Swisher and believed he would bounce back.
Here are some things I have noticed about Swisher’s swing this season. In 2009 he was very erratic at the plate swinging the bat behind his head before the pitch was even thrown. As Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long puts it, Swisher wasn’t “calm at the plate”. In 2010 Swisher’s swing changed dramatically. Instead of swinging the bat behind his head, Swisher let it rest on his shoulder. It showed more patience at the plate and instead of drawing mostly walks that season Swisher was able to produce more hits and had the best season of his career.
The first two months of the 2011 season I noticed a slight difference. Swisher was still letting the bat rest on his shoulder, but I noticed he was going into his swing motion too soon. Last year as the pitch would leave the opposer’s hand Swisher took the bat off his shoulder. This season he was taking the bat off his shoulder as the pitcher was winding up. It’s causing him to swing too soon. Swisher’s still showing a great eye and patience to draw walks, but his patience in hitting has been suffering.
Swisher’s defense has also been struggling, just not as much as his offense has. He’s still a pretty solid right fielder, but he has made more mistakes out there than usual. To be fair though, most of the Yankees defense has been struggling. Take note: He has ZERO errors, a 1.000 Fld%, and four assists so far in 2011.
The Yankees are currently on a west coast road trip and have played the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s for three games a piece. Swisher has gone 6-for-20 (.300) with six walks giving him an OBP of .462 and is slugging .650. One might say, “But that’s only six games,” but considering his struggles this season, that’s impressive.
Is this a hot streak that will help him bounce back? Maybe. Is it just a hot streak and will struggle again soon? It could happen. However, this doesn’t take away what Swisher is capable of doing. It’s a struggle. Everyone has them. He doesn’t have to have the exact same numbers as 2009 and 2010. Now that he’s shown this small streak starting and at least has them in places throughout the season it will be an advantage to the Yankees lineup.
This is no time to thrown in the towel and count Swisher out for the rest of the season. He’s showing hope that he will bounce back and that he’s not done yet. Don’t lose faith.