Nick Swisher More Valuable in 2011 Than NY Post Or Commenting Fans Seem To Think

The NY Yankees baseball team has some logistics to go over during the offseason. Baseball, as the book (and film) Moneyball showed, is filled with entrenched thinking where perception and subjective, traditional views really prevent the people who run the teams to rationally make the best use of their resources. Case in point, the New York Post in the piece titled Yankees’ offseason includes decision on Swisher:

Even though Rodriguez hit .111 (2 for 18) and Teixeira was a hit better at .167 against Detroit, the one player who has something to lose for failing in the playoffs could be Swisher, a career .169 hitter in the postseason. The enthusiastic right fielder’s most recent struggles — 4 for 19 (.211) with one homer and one RBI against Detroit — came at an inopportune time. The Yankees hold a $10.25 million option with a $1 million buyout on his contract.

And if you take a glance at the comments field (always entertaining under sports stories on the Internet), you see some folks also seem to think Nick Swisher has little value:

Buy out Swisher’s contract for the 1 million and let him test the market. Maybe there will be other teams that want a 1-trick, mouth full of chew redneck in their right field. Most other parks he hits maybe 5 homers for the season.

from People.com

It must be the hair magically reducing his power numbers!

Never mind that Swisher hit 21, 35, 22 and 24 home runs in three seasons with the Oakland A’s and one season with the Chicago White Sox prior to coming to New York.  Also, never mind the $10.25 million option for next year, as I’m not actually discerning what his market value is in light of the ridiculous economic system that is Major League Baseball. What’s more important is this perception that somehow Nick Swisher wasn’t a very valuable member of the Yankees BECAUSE of the classic misconceptions that a) postseason sample sizes somehow measure a player’s “clutch-ness”, a talent that doesn’t exist, and b) a player somehow lacks “tools” or the physical appearance of being a baseball player (“mouth full of chew redneck”) to get the job done.

Nick Swisher led the New York Yankees in On Base Percentage at .374. He led the ENTIRE TEAM of guys who make a lot more than $10.25 million. Good for 21st place out of all Major Leaguers. He was responsible for 36 Runs Above a Replacement Level Player and good for 3.4 Wins Above Replacement as well. In short, he was a good player for the Yankees overall.

Again, I’m not saying he’s definitely worth the raise in salary that his current contract’s option would provide him, but I do think it’s unfair to harshly judge his three seasons in New York based on the stats from the paltry 38 postseason games in comparison to the 1,061 regular season games he’s played.

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