I’ve never been a big fan of batters who strike out often, have a low batting average, and who walk a lot – even if they have some pop.
Yeah, I know, sabermetrically speaking, guys like Adam Dunn, Mickey Tettleton and Darrell Evans are “productive” players – because it’s all about not making “outs” and they reach base (via walks). And, again, sabermetrically speaking, strike outs are no different than any other out. Yet, there’s just something about the Jack Cust…and, yes, the Nick Swisher…type of batter that just rubs me the wrong way.
It’s hard to explain – but, it’s the way that I feel. Hey, just being honest here…
Related, this evening, playing around with the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, I noticed that Nick Swisher’s batting career, to date, looks a lot like the overall batting career of Ken Phelps – in terms of getting hits and reaching base via walks as well as making contact:
BATTER AVGvLg OBAvLg SO/PA Nick Swisher -0.03 0.02 .215 Ken Phelps -0.02 0.05 .196
AVGvLg = Career Batting Average vs. League Average
OBAvLge = Career On Base Average vs. League Average
Of course, there’s a difference between the two players – as Swisher is currently just 28-years old and Phelps posted those PA totals in the big leagues from the time he was age 25 until he was 35-years old. Nonetheless, in terms of taking pitches and making contact, is it a reach to say that Swisher and Phelps appear to have the same type of skill-level here?
Now, there’s also another difference between the two players here. Ken Phelps had a career slugging percentage 78 points above league average and an isolated power mark (over his career) that was 102 points above league average. Whereas Nick Swisher has a career slugging percentage 24 points above league average and an isolated power mark (over his career) that is 50 points above league average. This tells us that Swisher’s “pop” is no where near that of Phelps.
And, therefore, while Ken Phelps was a batter who would walk a lot and not get many hits – at least when he did get a hit it went a long way (more times than not). Can we say the same about Swisher? Or, is Nick the type of batter who will walk a lot, not get many hits, and when he does get a hit it will only go for extra bases some of the time? I think you can make a case for this being true…
Again, to me, this doesn’t make Swisher a terrible player. It just makes him look more like a Brad Wilkerson or Jon Nunnally type of player. Someone who probably should be a fourth outfielder rather than a starting outfielder. But, again, maybe it’s just me…