• Nady Vs. Swisher In Situations Of Higher Than Average Importance

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2009 · Comments (28)

    Some fun stats, via Baseball-Reference.com – Xavier Nady vs. Nick Swisher, in High Leverage situations, the last three seasons:

    Xavier Nady						
    
    Year	G	PA	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS	Babip
    2006	82	128	.386	.463	.849	.301
    2007	74	105	.381	.398	.779	.377
    2008	88	142	.415	.589	1.004	.392
    
    Nick Swisher						
    
    Year	G	PA	 OBP	 SLG	 OPS	BAbip
    2006	89	134	.403	.534	.937	.250
    2007	83	118	.398	.409	.807	.319
    2008	72	103	.291	.400	.691	.164

    I’m not here to knock Nick Swisher. More so, these numbers tell us, in important game situations, Xavier Nady does not take a back-seat to Swisher in any shape or form. Further, for those who like to point towards the fluke seasons of Nady and Swisher last season, again, these numbers are over the last three seasons. Therefore, it takes any good or bad luck that may have happened in 2008 out of the picture.

    I’m just as comfortable with Nady batting in a big spot for the Yankees this year as I would be with Swisher – if not more.

    Comments on Nady Vs. Swisher In Situations Of Higher Than Average Importance

    1. cqmurphy
      March 24th, 2009 | 8:30 am

      wait. am i missing something or are the numbers reversed? if you look at the numbers for the last three years, swisher is clearly stronger in these situations – making last year look like even more of a fluke. all this with significantly lower babip.

    2. YankCrank
      March 24th, 2009 | 9:48 am

      I’m missing this Steve. I look at the numbers from these 3 years and see one thing. In 2008, both Nady and Swisher had years that are way above or below their norm. These numbers do more to characterize outlier years for both players than prove one is more productive than the other.

      I think this just does more to characterize the kind of player these two are, and which one you like. I look at these and in high leverage situation, I see Swisher who gets on base and slugs better than Nady. But, I also see Nady who puts the ball in play more during these situations. You’ve already confessed you don’t like the high walk strikeout guy, so I can see how you’d like the player who puts it in play more. You’re not wrong, you just prefer that type of player.

      This is not a knock on Nady either. I said I prefer Swisher but it’s not like I don’t want to see Nady out there, he’s a good player but this is just one situation that shows Nady has been (how you look at it) more productive. If you look at career OPS+, OBP, IsoD, IsoP, BB/PA, #P/PA and UZR/150 in RF than Swisher is by far the superior player.

    3. March 24th, 2009 | 9:50 am

      Guys, maybe this will help?

      Some like to say that last year as a fluke for Swisher, in terms of his numbers being bad, beause of a low BABIP. And, others like to say that last year was a fluke for Nady, in terms of his numbers being great, because they were above his career norm. So, by showing the last three years here, I’m saying – forget the bad and good luck debate – look at the two years before the supposed bad and good luck years. And, in 2006 and 2007, Nady was a very effective batter (with an OBA around .385) in high leverage situations. Was Swisher good too? Yes. But, the case that Swisher fans like to make is that Nady stinks. And, I’m saying, in the big spots, that’s not true. It wasn’t true in 2008 and it wasn’t true the two years before that. Playing Nady in RF over Swisher will not kill the Yankees, as many like to paint it to be…

    4. thenewguy
      March 24th, 2009 | 10:12 am

      Playing Nady in RF over Swisher will not kill the Yankees, as many like to paint it to be…
      ————

      I’m not really sure that’s the way Yankees fans feel. Personally, I just worry that the Yankees organization values Nady too much compared to Swisher. I worry that the Yankees will play the inferior player (albeit not by much) in RF. EVEN if the difference is only a small one, Yankees fans SHOULD care that we put the best line-up out there. We can disagree on what that line-up is, but I think most pro-Swisher people simply want to see him in the line-up his fair share of times… which isn’t exactly a lock right now.

    5. March 24th, 2009 | 10:23 am

      The thing with Swisher that still gnaws at me. Given his age, and relative low salary, why did Billy Beane give up on him? Why did the White Sox look to dump him so quickly as well? There’s a story there – and we’ll find out what it is, this season, in Yankeeland. But, I can say, for sure, that it won’t be a bad story.

    6. Corey
      March 24th, 2009 | 10:31 am

      I’m not really sure that’s the way Yankees fans feel.
      ——
      that’s how i feel

    7. Corey
      March 24th, 2009 | 10:33 am

      isn’t beane’s philosophy to develop strong players and trade them for young pitching? And isn’t that what he did with swish?

    8. MJ
      March 24th, 2009 | 10:34 am

      The thing with Swisher that still gnaws at me. Given his age, and relative low salary, why did Billy Beane give up on him?
      ——
      Beware of deifying Billy Beane. While I consider him to be a very good GM (one of the best, really), no GM is infallible. To simply say “Beane got rid of him and everyone knows he’s a genius” is a dangerous game.

      Beane signed Swisher to a five-year extension during the 2007 season so to cite Beane’s trade of Swisher as evidence of his dislike of the player either means that (1) Beane messed up by signing him in the first place or (2) Beane actually liked Swisher and traded him to get younger and cheaper (Oakland’s MO in most years).

      Basically you can’t glean any information from Beane’s trading of Swisher. Players get traded.

    9. YankCrank
      March 24th, 2009 | 10:55 am

      Playing Nady in RF over Swisher will not kill the Yankees, as many like to paint it to be…
      —–

      If I ever made it sound like Nady stinks, than I was wrong in doing so. I don’t think Nady stinks…what I do think is a thought along the lines of what newguy said. Nady is a good player, but I feel the Yanks overvalue him. Swisher isn’t the “far superior player,” he’s just simply a better and more productive player. Nady will not kill us in RF, but as a Yankee fan I want the better player in there every day to optimize our lineup.

    10. cqmurphy
      March 24th, 2009 | 12:43 pm

      furthermore: IIRC, cliff over at bronx banter looked at defense in this argument. Swish came out way ahead in that dept.

    11. March 24th, 2009 | 12:53 pm

      I’ve seen the stats, and, from the ones that I’ve seen, IIRC, Swisher is a pretty good defensive corner OF (and a nightmare in CF, FWIW) whereas Nady is a slightly below average defensive corner OF.

      But, it’s not like the defensive difference between Swisher and Nady is like the defensive difference between Dave Winfield and Steve Kemp.

      Here’s a question for the fans of Swisher: If Nick Swisher is, indeed, “by far the superior player” (compared to Xavier Nady), then who’s to blame for Nady getting the starting gig? Girardi? Cashman? Both? Does that make Joe or Brian an idiot for allowing this to happen?

    12. MJ
      March 24th, 2009 | 12:59 pm

      then who’s to blame for Nady getting the starting gig? Girardi? Cashman? Both? Does that make Joe or Brian an idiot for allowing this to happen?
      —–
      No idea, but who cares? I don’t need to scapegoat Cashman or Girardi to point out that Swisher should be starting.

      But FWIW, I assume it’s Girardi calling the shots here and it’s probably because most managers are cut from the same cloth. His comments yesterday about “what he saw last year” means that Nady’s performance (I blinked and must’ve missed it) earned him incumbenct status.

    13. MJ
      March 24th, 2009 | 1:00 pm

      *incumbenct = incumbent

    14. cqmurphy
      March 24th, 2009 | 1:12 pm

      1) “far superior” is overstating. furthermore, girardi and his coaches are watching these guys play every day, so they have a lot more tangible and up-to-date info than we do. girardi’s statement yesterday would have gone unchecked yesterday were he to have said, “based on what we’ve seen this spring…” – but he did NOT. he said he would give nady the job based on last year. if he’s gonna look at past performances, he needs to look at ALL of them – most of which point to Swisher having the SLIGHT edge.

      2) that all being said, i think that, like his predecessor, girardi is into “his guys”, so despite his tenure being short in NY, nady has the upperhand in that camp. in concert with the fact that swisher could very easily be considered one of “cashman’s guys”, the “blame” for starting Nady over Swisher would fall firmly with girardi.

    15. YankCrank
      March 24th, 2009 | 1:51 pm

      then who’s to blame for Nady getting the starting gig? Girardi? Cashman? Both? Does that make Joe or Brian an idiot for allowing this to happen?
      —-

      I can’t see where Cash would get blamed. He bought low on Swish as insurance at 1b in case he couldn’t sign Tex. When they got Tex, it took two capable outfielders and forced one of them to the bench. I was ok with this because I assumed the better player would play but instead we got “based on his performance last year, Nady is our right fielder.” That’s Joe’s call so if “blame” is needed, than I guess Joe gets it.

      Also, I don’t think anybody here thinks Swish is the “far superior player.” He’s just the better player. This isn’t an A-Rod and Mike Lamb-sized difference, it’s just a lot of Yankee fans want the best possible lineup every day and when you look at both players, Swisher is the better player.

    16. YankCrank
      March 24th, 2009 | 1:57 pm

      To add to that, it can even itself out over time. Do I want Swish as the every-day RF? Yes, but this has a chance of being managed in a positive way. If they put together more of a rotation and get Swish 3-4 games a week, sit Damon every once in a while, sit Nady against tough righties and put an optimal offensive outfielder of Damon/Swish/Nady on the field every once-in-a-while than everybody will get their at bats. But, if we see Swish getting one game a week and actually being a bench player than I feel a very good opportunity will be wasted.

    17. butchie22
      March 24th, 2009 | 2:16 pm

      Of the two players Nady has played in the bigtime, bright lights of NYC…Swish? When he went to a market that has some pressure( more than the Cubbies than on the Pale Hose) he faltered a ton. I don’t think Swish is better than Nady BTW. They are not great by any means, but Nady was brought here to be a starter whereas Swish was brought it to be a backup/insurance policy for first. Girardi gets the blame and I’m happy he made the decision! Swish had a shitty season last year on a playoff team and as much as I like his grittiness and attitude, it’s not enough for this team. They need to win every game(because Tampa and Boston are so good) with the best lineup possible and Girardi made an excellent choice.

    18. YankCrank
      March 24th, 2009 | 2:20 pm

      butchie, please provide some evidence other than “Nady has played in the bright lights” and “Swish had a poor year last year” as to why Nady is the better player.

    19. MJ
      March 24th, 2009 | 3:14 pm

      Rob Neyer weighed in yesterday on the same issue. He reiterates Steven Goldman’s point (which I’ve linked to on here twice before) and agrees that Swisher should be starting over Nady. Other than Girardi reverting to the tired old instincts of every manager that has ever lived, I don’t see anyone who has sensibly argued in favor of Nady over Swisher.

      To quote Neyer, “So, let’s see…younger, better against right-handed pitching, better fielder, better baserunner…gee, why would you want to give that guy a regular job?”

      http://tinyurl.com/c8bcte

    20. YankCrank
      March 24th, 2009 | 3:22 pm

      I don’t see anyone who has sensibly argued in favor of Nady over Swisher.
      —-

      Me neither MJ, all we get is a lot of “but he sucked last year” and “omg he only hit like .219!” It’s a bunch of crap. If somebody presented a reasonable argument other than personal feelings than i’d listen but it hasn’t come out yet.

    21. March 24th, 2009 | 4:13 pm

      YankCrank wrote:

      If somebody presented a reasonable argument other than personal feelings than i’d listen but it hasn’t come out yet.

      OTOH, those in favor of Swisher point to his low BABIP and offer that he just hit in bad luck last season.

      “Bad luck” is a “reasonable argument”? Really? Sounds more like a theory, to me…

      I can find many batters who had a low BABIP and who did not rebound to have a nice season the following year. Saying that a guy is due to do better because his BABIP was low sounds more like hope, actually, than a reasonable case…

      Maybe Swisher had crappy numbers last year because he sucked and/or dogged it? That’s just as possible, no?

    22. YankCrank
      March 24th, 2009 | 4:29 pm

      Steve, if you’d really like to understand the babip argument in it’s fullest than i’d recommend referring to the fangraphs write up they did on the Nady/Swisher battle. It’s not as simple as an argument of one year of low babip and people saying he was unlucky. If that was the actual basis for argument, than i’d agree that it’s not anything to bank on. It’s just one reference of many stats that outline how Swisher is a better ballplayer. Check it out and let me know what you think. There’s also another good argument with the same stats by Driveline Mechanics. Both links below.

      FanGraphs: http://tinyurl.com/azwben
      Driveline: http://tinyurl.com/cvbyjo

    23. March 24th, 2009 | 4:47 pm

      YankCrank – thanks. I’m actually pretty read up on the topic since DIPs first came out. And, I appreciate the thought. That said, I’m just saying, here, that sometimes, big feet just means big feet. And, all the Yankees fans out there who are hanging their hats on a good season from Swisher just may be surprised when he plays like a turkey this year. All the underlying stats and trends in the world can be misleading. And, we won’t know for sure, on Swisher, until we see him play, everyday, as a Yankee. I just hope, if he does stink in New York, that all those fans and experts who say he should start, etc., offer up that they were wrong…if that day comes. I know that I’ll be first in line to say I was wrong, if he turns out to be a good player in 2009.

    24. Evan3457
      March 24th, 2009 | 8:06 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      OTOH, those in favor of Swisher point to his low BABIP and offer that he just hit in bad luck last season.
      “Bad luck” is a “reasonable argument”? Really? Sounds more like a theory, to me…

      It’s not really a “theory” Steve; the general plexiglass principle applies here.

      Players whose performance is far from the norm, especially due to random chance, are extremely likely to rebound in the other direction. Swisher, unless he’s lost bat speed that nobody has detected is VERY likely to be considerably improved this season, for the same reason that Joe Saunders, the Angels’ pitcher is very likely to have be considerably worse.

      I can find many batters who had a low BABIP and who did not rebound to have a nice season the following year.

      This is quite true, but primarily because there are a lot of players. The fact that you can find 20, or even 50, regular hitters who don’t rebound in a given doesn’t negate the fact that the probability of a marked improvement in Swisher’s hitting line is quite high, especially given the fact that his line drive rate actually went UP last season from 2007.

      Swisher is actually fairly typical…his BABIP/Real BAVG numbers for his 4 full seasons:

      2005: .266/.236 +33
      2006: .287/.254 +33
      2007: .308/.262 +46
      2008: .251/.219 +32

      In fact, Swisher’s Real BAVG lags his BABIP by about .030 (every season except 2007, when it was about .045); it’s fairly consistent across various levels of performance.
      ==================================
      But hey, let’s take a better player, a more consistent player, a player for whom no one who claim his batting performance was lucky, or unlucky, or due to anything but his own skill, grit, determination, guts, and uh…marbles. Let’s try Derek Jeter, from 1996-2008:

      1996: .368/.314 +52
      1997: .347/.291 +56
      1998: .377/.324 +53
      1999: .400/.349 +51
      2000: .388/.339 +49
      2001: .344/.311 +33
      2002: .338/.297 +41
      2003: .380/.324 +56
      2004: .317/.292 +25
      2005: .353/.309 +44
      2006: .394/.343 +51
      2007: .368/.322 +44
      2008: .336/.300 +36

      It’s pretty obvious from Jeter’s record that BABIP is very closely tied to BAVG, and not under a player’s control very much, if at all (except for power; hit more HR and 2B out of the outfielder’s reach, and your BABIP and BAVG must go up). The gap between Jeter’s BABIP and his BAVG is reasonably consistent. For most of his career its about 45-50 points, gradually sliding as he grows older, probably due to diminishing power (fewer unplayable EBH) and diminishing speed (fewer infield hits).

      Saying that a guy is due to do better because his BABIP was low sounds more like hope, actually, than a reasonable case…
      Maybe Swisher had crappy numbers last year because he sucked and/or dogged it? That’s just as possible, no?

      Possible, but not likely. Again, he hit more line drives, and fewer groundballs and flyballs, and his average went down. He did K at a higher rate, equivalent to about 20 extra K’s, and that should have cost him about 40 points in BAVG. But the improved line drive rate should’ve added back about 25-30 of those points. He should’ve hit about .250; instead, he hit .220.

      No, it’s far more likely to be luck than it is to be a different level of performance.

      In my opinion.

    25. Evan3457
      March 24th, 2009 | 8:16 pm

      Hmmm… I said something that doesn’t quite mean what I meant to say…

      When I said a player’s BABIP (or BAVG) is not under his control, that’s just plain wrong. Obviously, the better hitter a player is, the higher both will be. The general overall level of batting performance is not only largely within the player’s control, it largely defines him.

      What I meant to was that the gap between BABIP and BAVG is what is largely not within the player’s control. They bounce up and down together, for pretty much every player.

      Not exactly in unison, and there are exceptions from season-to-season, but for the vast majority of players and pitchers, BABIP (or BABIP against for pitchers) makes a huge difference in the performance record, and it can vary enough due to luck to make a player’s record look considerably worse or better than it “really” was.

      A classic example: the “improvement” in last year’s Rays pitching staff compared to the improvement in their overall team defense, especially up the middle. This improvement dropped the Rays’ opposition BABIP, and was obviously linked to their dramatically improved pitching, and thus to their meteoric rise in the standings.

    26. Evan3457
      March 24th, 2009 | 8:32 pm

      Oh, one last thing, which actually was the first thing I noticed. You’re not really playing fair there, Steve. Your main premise is that Nady outperformed Swisher in important(high-leverage) situations over the last 3 seasons.

      But that’s rather distorted, isn’t it?

      Swisher clearly outperformed Nady in those circumstances in 2006, he slightly outperformed him in 2007. Nady overwhelmed Swisher in 2008, and on that basis, comes out ahead over the 3 seasons.

      Well, that makes it a debate, doesn’t it? Let me clarify. Suppose you had one hitter who went .270-25-80 for 2 seasons, and .210-10-45 in the 3rd, and another hitter who went .250-15-60 in two seasons, and .300-35-100.

      The 2nd hitter would be better on average, in all 3 categories. But the 1st hitter would’ve been significantly better in 2 of them. So, would you rather have a 2/3 chance of a solid player, and a 1/3 chance of a bust, or a 1/3 chance of a borderline MVP candidate, and a 2/3 chance of a mediocrity.

      There is no “correct” answer; it really depends on the rest of your team. If your team is solid, you might want the 1st player. If he busts, you can bench him by June and replace him, especially if you have the 2nd player waiting on the bench. If you have a weak team, and need some big breaks to contend, then you might want the 2nd player, and pray to get lucky.

      Note that last well: the 2nd player is the one whose performance is more likely be fluky.
      =================================
      OK, maybe Swisher tanked last year because he can’t handle high expectations, or because he’s lost it. But I’m going to want to see that again before I draw that conclusion.

      And I’m done bloviating. For now.

    27. March 24th, 2009 | 11:47 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Your main premise is that Nady outperformed Swisher in important(high-leverage) situations over the last 3 seasons.

      No. My premise is that Nady has done fine in these spots – and that I have no issue with him batting in there. Did I not write(?) -

      “I’m not here to knock Nick Swisher. More so, these numbers tell us, in important game situations, Xavier Nady does not take a back-seat to Swisher in any shape or form.”

    28. Evan3457
      March 25th, 2009 | 1:59 am

      Well, OK, then.

      Nady takes a backseat to Swisher in 2006, and slightly backseat to Swisher in 2007, and Swisher is not even in the car in 2008.

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