With the New York Yankees on the verge of another playoff disaster at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, rooters of the club may be seeing the last of Nick Swisher in pinstripes. Swisher is in the process of playing himself out of the Bronx, based solely on his lack of production in the multiple postseasons he has participated with the club.
I hope the coming possible playoff games are the last I see of Swisher as a Yankees player. I have a feeling that I am not alone in this sentiment.
During the regular season Swisher is a decent player, but one who I know will be quite easy to replace. Virtually any competent outfielder would put up similar run-producing numbers based on the many opportunities he would get in the heart of the Yankees' lineup. New York can opt to keep Ichiro Suzuki for another season, and form a speedy outfield of the former Mariner along with Curtis Granderson and an assumed-healthy Brett Gardner for 2013. Or they can explore picking up an outfielder via free agency or a trade, allowing Swisher to walk away in the offseason as a free agent.
Abysmal is not a strong enough adjective to employ when discussing Swisher in the playoffs at the plate. In fact, such a word may not exist in the English language. Swisher has exceeded a .250 batting average with New York in just one of eight playoff series. Counting a pair of series he played in while a member of the Oakland Athletics, Swisher has just 25 hits in 45 games. He is batting a paltry .167 in 177 plate appearances, with his last two postseason failures a big part of why the Yankees have struggled in the playoffs.
Swisher's numbers are astoundingly bad, but the set of statistics I find most alarming are those that reveal how awful he has been in the clutch. In no postseason series that he has swung a bat in has Swisher knocked in more than one run. Incredibly, he has collected only seven runs batted in during the 10 series he has been part of.
His misfortunes at the plate are one thing, but the last straw for me was his defense, or lack thereof, in the first game of the Detroit series this past weekend. With the score 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Swisher allowed a pop fly by Delmon Young to plop in front of him for a run-scoring single. I feel Swisher had to dive for that ball, especially when he could clearly see that had he caught it, he had an easy double-play opportunity; Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera had made up his mind to chug for home and would have been a dead duck had Swisher caught the ball. From the ball's trajectory, I could see that even if the attempt to catch it had failed, it was not going to get far away from the outfielder.
To make matters worse, Swisher proceeded to totally misplay a line drive hit by Young in the 12th inning, allowing Cabrera to trot home with what would be the winning run. All I could think of after the game ended was how upset I will be if the Yankees re-sign Swisher in the winter. He has a chance to change my mind, but this would require his coming alive with the bat and glove during the next couple of playoff games, a circumstance that no sane man would bet on given his track record.
I have been a fan of the New York Yankees since the middle of the 1960s.
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