You may call me crazy, but I really like the deal the Yankees just made.
You may think Swisher was bad last year, and that opinion would likely be based on his .219 batting average. Long time readers and friends know by now that I despise batting average as a valuable metric of a player’s ability or contribution, and this is one really good example.
Some actually important numbers from Swisher from last season: led the majors, by a lot, with 4.51 pitches per plate appearance (wow!); 8th in the league in walks, with 82; line drive rate of 20.9%, which was the best of his career, but a .251 BABIP (batting average on balls put in play) was a career low, suggesting that his .219 batting average may have been the product of some plain ol’ bad luck. (Some more on BABIP, here and here). He’s relatively affordable at $5.3 million in 2009, $6.75 million in 2010 and $9 million in 2011, with an option in 2012 for $10.25 million with a $1 million buyout.
Also, they didn’t really give away much to get him. Marquez was once highly touted, but hasn’t progressed. Betemit didn’t really become what the Yankees hoped. Nunez was just acquired at the trading deadline for Alberto Gonzalez. Big whoop.
The best part is, aside from him being only 28 and a switch hitter, is that Swisher can legitimately play first base or the corner outfield spots, giving the Yankees some much needed (something I’ve been screaming about for years) roster flexibility. This doesn’t even preclude them getting Teixeira, because Swisher can go play RF if they sign the free agent 1B.
Wow, a young, switch hitting, decent fielding, high OBP-ing, first baseman/outfielder with some power? How can you NOT like this move?