As I've surfed around the web these last few days (a bizarre habit I've acquired late in life), commentary on the Yankees often seems to take for granted that Ichiro Suzuki should be re-signed. Simultaneously, Nick Swisher, that perpetual postseason escape artist (escape from hitting, I mean), will be handed a qualifying offer and told not to let the door hit him on the way out.
Now, as I've written several times before, Swisher is an odd candidate to try and fit for a long-term contract going into his age-32 season. Take 2008 out of the picture and he's a very consistent player, with an OPS+ around 125 every year. You know what you're going to get: a batting average somewhere in the vicinity of .260, 35 doubles, around 25 home runs, and roughly 80-90 walks. To invoke a cliché, it isn't flashy, but it gets the job done.
The problem is that Swisher's catalog is redolent of what is often called "old-player's skills," and that type of player usually doesn't age well -- they start slow and only get slower. On defense, Swisher looks terrible on a dozen plays a year, but the totality of his glove-work is not bad. What happens, though, when this already-slow player loses a step? What happens when his batting average drops to .230? That second question is easy to answer, actually: With his walks and home-run power, he'll still be quite valuable. Thing is, who wants to give a five-year contract to a player you know is probably two years from being a .230-hitting designated hitter?
The Ichiro vs. Swisher Fallacy
Pinstriped Bible | Oct 24