Everyone pretty much expected this from day one, but it's finally come true as Swish has signed a 4 year, 52 million dollar contract with the Indians, meaning he has most likely played his final game in pinstripes. I'd like to use this opportunity to thank Nick for all he's done for the Yankees, going from a guy the Yankees got for nothing that was supposed to be a backup back in 2009 to one of the most consistent outfielders in all of baseball this past year in 2012.
They acquired Nick Swisher in 2009 from the White Sox for Wilson Betemit and company... so basically they got Swish for free. And maybe for good reason too, seeing as he just came off a season where he went .219/.332/.410 with the White Sox as their primary center fielder, and also apparently did not see eye to eye with his manager Ozzie Guillen. So he came to the Yankees, and they expected him to start at first base. And then they decided to sign Mark Teixeira for 8 years, which pushed him into a competition with Xavier Nady (remember him?) for the starting right field job in spring training.
Nady won the job I think within the first week of camp, which means it wasn't really a competition at all and it was Nady's all along. Nady would play 7 games for the Yankees in 2009 before requiring Tommy John Surgery, and that opened the door for Swish in right field. It's hard to imagine how things might have played out if Nady never got hurt, and maybe had a season similar to his 2008 with Nick as a 4th outfielder/backup. But that didn't happen, and Nick took advantage of his opportunity in a huge way. He became a fan favorite, and more importantly, he started a run for four straight years as the Yankees starting right fielder and was one of the most productive at his position during that span.
Here's where Swisher ranks among right fielders in that time frame, and this shows how vastly underrated he was. His consistency was just as valuable as his production, and he was always a safe bet for about 25 HRs, a .350+ OBP and 150 games and 600 ABs.
He was also one of the top Yankee performers in that time frame that he arrived here as well. He's essentially tied with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira for second on the team in wOBA and wRC+ (behind Robinson Cano) over the course of his four seasons in pinstripes. And he's first in on base percentage and walks. Again, completely underrated.
His numbers in pinstripes are actually very comparable to another fan favorite who happened to play in the Bronx for a little while. Just for fun...
Swish: .268/.367/.483, 128 wRC+, .370 wOBA
Mystery Player: .303/.377/.492, 126 wRC+, .375 wOBA
And since people like talking about this, I'll mention it too. Swish "lead the league in fun" for four years in a row while in NY, and while we make fun of that phrase from the HR derby... if there was actually a stat for this, Swish would probably win it. I've never seen anyone enjoy playing the game while he's playing it as much as he does. Great personality, always fun to listen to his interviews. Igot to meet him once, and it was probably one of the best 10 minute conversations of my life. The man can talk to anybody and have fun with it and make it feel like you're his best friend. Thats not a quality that most people have. And it's something I'm going to miss watching every day.
Nick struggled in the postseason. He had a great Game 3 of the 2009 World Series, and the reason I need to mention that particular game is because he's been bad in nearly every other postseason game. So bad to the point where Girardi sat him down in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, and then again in Game 3 of this past years ALCS. But despite all those struggles, the Yankees may not even get to any of those postseasons if Swisher didn't do what he did for the past four seasons. And Yankee fans are incredibly lucky to have been able to have him on our side. Nobody really cared though, since a certain four legged creature took over 90% of the blame for all Yankee failures via NY media (aka douchebags). I'm sure that in time, Swisher will be remembered as a Yankee more for his fun loving attitude and success during his four years here.
And he had plenty of success. A switch hitting outfielder with power, great plate discipline, the ability to take a walk at any time, the ability to play first base as well as the outfield. And as consistent a player as there is. The Indians are lucky to have a player like him on their team. And the Yankees have lost a guy that has been a huge piece of their team for four years and who will probably not be replaced, likely not in terms of production and certainly not in terms of fun!
So with all that in mind, I just want to say thank you to Nick Swisher. You have been a joy to watch play for the Yankees over your last four years and I wish him best of luck in Cleveland. And who knows. Maybe after his contract is up... he'll find his way back to the Yankees one more time. The Indians visit Yankee Stadium for the first time on Monday June 3rd, and I'm looking forward to hearing Nick get the standing ovation he deserves when he steps up to the plate.
PS: If you're wondering who the mystery player is, just listen hard during Yankee broadcasts. It's the guy who makes fun of Michael Kay the most.