Sunday, October 9, 2011

Free Agent Watch: Nick Swisher

Mr. Moneyball himself, Nick Swisher, the first round pick by Billy Beane's A's in the 2002 draft, has an option year on his contract with the Yankees for 2012. The option is 10.25 million, with a 1 million year buyout (which means that if the Yankees decide to decline the option and allow him to be a free agent, they have to give him a million dollars). By definition, if the Yankees select to buy him out, the WAR they would get would be 0, and a 2000 WASP (ironically under the Halladay Standard). In 2011, Swisher gave the Yankees a 3.4 WAR, which would be right around the Halladay Standard under a 10.25 million dollar salary. His average WAR in the past 3 seasons has been 3.8, which would be make him below the Halladay Standard next year. Strangely, 2011 was his best defensive season, at a 1.1 WAR. It is hard to imagine he will put up that kind of season again. His offensive WAR, at 2.3, was lower than it had been in 09 and 10. Is this something that should be expected to continue? Or is it an aberration? This is the big question the Yankees have to face. Remember in the Vernon Wells and Adam Dunn article that there are not very many tells as to whether a player is losing it or not. That is, except for OBP. Nick Swisher has a career .360 OBP, a solid number, but one almost expects it to be better. In 2011, his OBP was .374, his best as a Yankee. His OPS was slightly smaller than it has been as a Yankee, at .822. His PPG was 1.27 in '11, slightly lower than his career 1.3. His PAPP was 2.49 in '11, better than his 2.56 career PAPP. So traditional numbers seem to say that Swisher is fine. What do the advanced metrics say? According to the Secondary Average, Swisher was better in 2011 than 2010 and about where he has been his whole career, and his "total average" was exactly the same as it has been his whole career. His isolated slugging is slightly discouraging, as hit was quite a bit lower than his career number. He is still seeing over 4 pitches per plate appearance, as he has his whole career. Most of his strike percentage metrics are exactly the same as they have been his whole career. He has never ran real well, but he grounded into more double plays than he has ever before. However, there really isn't much else to be concerned about in my opinion. I guess one could be concerned that his power might be waning, but he is only 30, so this seems unlikely. It seems worth it to pick up Swisher's option, and I expect the Yankees to do it, especially with their cash flow. A smaller moneyed club might want to pay the million dollars, and decline the option and see if they can get more efficiency elsewhere.

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