The hell you smiling about Nick? You suck playa!
Photo Credit: Keith Allison
With only one HR and a .214 BA heading into Saturday’s games, Nick Swisher has been, how do you say, not very good. Last year, all-world hitting coach Kevin Long (who you can credit for Curtis Granderson’s resurgence, Mark Teixeira’s newfound April success, and Robinson Cano’s ascension to the elite tier of major league hitters) had Swisher adopt a more aggressive approach that saw him take more swings than ever before (44.5 Swing%). He’s still swinging the bat more than he used to (42.1 Swing%), and he’s actually improved his plate approach while doing so. Swishalicious is posting his lowest K% (21.4) since his rookie season and his BB% sits at a healthy 15.7 mark. So if he’s still taking Long’s advice by swinging more often but is also maintaining an elite batting eye, what the hell is going on? As a Yankee fan and someone who watches virtually every game, the problem is pretty simple. Major league pitchers are simply attacking him differently. Swisher kills fastballs, but this season when he’s been in fastball counts, he’s been seeing everything except heaters. That has hurt his power numbers since Swisher can drive the fastball a long way and even though he’s still making good contact in general (25.0 LD%), the lack of fastballs in counts where he’s expecting them has caused his HR/FB to tumble to 3.2 percent (14.6 career). It’s not that Swisher can’t hit a breaking pitch for a HR, it’s just that he can’t murder them the way he can a heater.
Since team’s are keeping him humble, you have to expect opposing pitchers to continue doing this until he forces them to adjust. The key in all this is how will Swisher adapt. The good news is that Swisher’s .253 BABIP looks flukey considering his high LD%, so some of this will correct itself. That said, he’ll have to make some adjustments to put himself in situations where he can get fastballs to drive out of the park, otherwise the power numbers will continue to be below draft value. That means he’ll either have to start hammering breaking pitches, or engage in a tricky game of cat-and-mouse with hurlers by trying to guess when they’ll throw a fastball. The latter will be far more difficult to pull off since pitchers are already playing games with his mind, so fantasy owners better hope that Long can get Swisher to do more damage on breaking stuff.