The Yankees salvaged a split of their bifurcated series in Baltimore witha 3-2 win over the Orioles on Monday night. Although their offense connected for just four hits in seven innings against Alfredo Simon, two of them were big ones, namely Mark Teixeira's RBI double in the first inning and Nick Swisher's two-run homer in the third. Meanwhile, in his first start in 22 days, Freddy Garcia held the Orioles to just two hits and one run, that via a Mark Reynolds solo shot. Amazingly enough, Garcia hadn't allowed a single homer since June 7 in Boston, 11 starts and 68 innings prior; for a guy fresh off the disabled list, it was about as strong a start as one could have hoped. David Robertson got into the act by allowing his first homer in 53.1 innings this year; luckily it was a solo shot — by J.J. Hardy, who killed the Yankees all series (5-for-17 with three extra base hits) — as well.
Swisher has been en fuego lately; the home run was his sixth in a seven-game span, his seventh of the month, and his 21st of the season. Since June 1 (arbitrary endpoint alert!), he has been the Yankees' hottest regular, batting .300/.413/.557 with 18 homers. In that same span, Curtis Granderson has hit .270/.389/.565 with 21 homers, Robinson Cano .318/.365/.537 with 12 homers, and Mark Teixeira .246/.331/.492 with 19 homers. Derek Jeter (.326/.383/.438), Jorge Posada (.297/.346/451) and even Andruw Jones (.265/.390/.542 in 100 plate appearances) have provided solid help as well, but no Yankee hitter has been as strong across the board as Swish.
He's now hitting .267/.383/.464 overall; while that would represent his lowest slugging percentage since his dismal 2008 season with the White Sox, it would also be a career high in on-base percentage. After dropping below one walk for every 10 plate appearances for the first time in his career last year, he has rebounded to a 14.9 percent unintentional walk rate (second in the AL, second-best in his career) and 84 walks overall (third in the AL). Despite the year-to-year fluctuations of Swisher's platoon splits, overall slash stats and the hitting environments in which he has toiled over the years, he has remained a model of consistency in terms of his overall production. In terms of True Average — which is adjusted for park and league scoring levels — five of his past six seasons have fallen within a 10-point range:
Year Tem AVG/OBP/SLG TAv WARP
2006 OAK .254/.372/.493 .304 5.3
2007 OAK .262/.381/.455 .298 4.3
2008 CHA .219/.332/.410 .255 0.7
2009 NYA .249/.371/.498 .295 3.4
2010 NYA .288/.359/.511 .304 5.2
2011 NYA .267/.383/.464 .305 3.8
That's some bankable production; with this recent onslaught, he's reached his average WARP for that span with a month left to play. Picking up his $10.25 million option for 2012 is a complete no-brainer; at an exchange rate of $5 million per win above replacement, he's been worth about twice that much over a six-year period.
Whether the Yankees should think about a longer-term extension for Swisher is a conversation for another day; he'll be 31 in November, 32 by the time he reaches free agency, and worth some significant coin given what the likes of Jayson Werth — a similarly productive player, albeit with a shorter track record — commanded on the open market; recall that the shaggy former Phillies right fielder got seven years and $126 million from the Nationals coming off his age 31 season. That was widely viewed as an overpayment, and it hasn't worked out so well thus far, but that $18 million annual figure is one that Swish and his agent can use as a benchmark for his own value. Again, conversation for another day; for now, let's just enjoy his rampage through AL pitching.