To many, Nick Swisher’s big signing in the offseason was doomed to be a disappointment. Never much of a star – only one career All-Star game – he reached a four-year, $56 million deal with Cleveland just after turning 32 years old. The pomp and circumstance were exciting, but would he produce?
As an understatement, the new Indians slugger has underachieved in the minds of many fans thus far in 2013. While the Ohio State outfielder/first baseman got off to a hot start – including the walk-off in the year’s first home win – he’s been awfully cold of late.
Per the numbers, take a look at the exact discrepancy of his recent struggles:
Career through 2012: .256/.361/.467 in 1,209 games, 9.4% XBH/PA, 21.3% K/PA
Through May 26th: .280/.378/.510 in 43 games, 11.4% XBH/PA, 20.5% K/PA
Since May 27th: .204/.307/.293 in 44 games, 3.6% XHB/PA, 25.0% K/PA
Swisher has continued to be an effective on-base percentage producer. It certainly might make sense then for manager Terry Francona to try to get him ignited in the No. 2 hole with more at-bats.
But the most jarring aspect of Swisher’s struggles lie with his slugging decline. He has just three doubles and four homers in the span of 192 plate appearances since May 27th. For his career with nearly 7.5-seasons worth of games entering this stretch, he averaged 18 extra-base hits per 192 PAs.
Now displaying a season-long slugging percentage of .398, it’s a new career-worst for the former New York Yankee. Besides his rookie season, his two previous worst slugging years were his bad .410 of 2008 with the White Sox and .446 in his second year with Oakland in 2005.
In his first three tries against Texas’ Yu Darvish last night, Swisher struck out. While his K/PA rates have remained fairly consistent, it’s a wonder if his continued shoulder issues are affecting his power.
Certainly, the revitalization of Swisher – and any improvement from similarly struggling Mark Reynolds – would constitute a solid offensive boost down the stretch for the contending Indians.