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« Edwin Jackson, Slider Specialist | Main | Bucs' Melancon Poised to Bounce Back »
Wednesday
Jan022013

Swisher Has Multiple Personalities at the Plate

In Nick Swisher, the Cleveland Indians signed one of the game's better blends of patience and power. The former Ohio State Buckeye, signed to a four-year, $56 million deal in December, ranks in the top ten among outfielders in on-base percentage (.366) and places in the top twenty in slugging (.478) and OPS+ (125) since the beginning of the 2010 season. The switch-hitting Swisher is a threat from both sides of the plate, posting a near-identical OPS from the left side (.830) and the right (.834), but his approach couldn't be more different. Swish is a pure slugger as a lefty, swinging freely and posting lofty power and punchout totals. He's a doubles hitters as a righty, but his more patient and contact-oriented style  makes him an on-base machine.

Here's a look at Swisher's swing rate by pitch location from both sides of the plate over the past three seasons. He's much more aggressive as a lefty batter, taking a cut at about 69% of pitches thrown over the plate (57% as a righty) and chasing about a quarter of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone (16% as a righty). Swinging more frequently from the left side, Swisher has drawn a walk in 10.5% of his plate appearances. As a righty, he has walked 15.4% of the time.

        Swisher as a LHB, 2010-12                  Swisher as a RHB, 2010-12

 

 

Swisher's lefty swing puts more pitches in the cheap seats (more on that in a moment), but it also leads to more whiffs. He has a 26% miss rate as a lefty hitter, compared to 15% as a righty. Not surprisingly, Swisher's K rate is far higher as a lefty (24.7%) than as a righty (14.9%).

         Swisher as a LHB, 2010-12                  Swisher as a RHB, 2010-12

    

 

When Swisher does make contact, though, it's louder from the left side. He slugged .495 as a lefty from 2010-12, going deep about 18% of the time that he hit a fly ball. Swisher slugged .443 and had a home run per fly ball rate of under 9% as a righty. 

          Swisher as LHB, 2010-12                       Swisher as RHB, 2010-12

 

Swisher has been more valuable as a righty hitter overall, with his huge on-base advantage from that side (.411 OBP as a righty, .343 as a lefty) outweighing his slugging feats as a lefty. While Progressive Field doesn't boost home run totals near as much as Yankee Stadium, Swisher's multiple personalities at the dish appear well-suited for his new home. According to StatCorner, Progressive Field increases home runs for left-handed hitters by 21% and decreases them by 26% for right-handed hitters. Swisher can let er' rip as a lefty, taking aim at the nine-foot tall fences in center and right field, and draw bushels of walks as a righty, knowing that the 19-foot "Little Green Monster" in left field puts a serious crimp on power numbers.

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