Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Mlb_may_09_fbbe

Nick Swisher is a talented, big-money veteran with an actress wife, and he likes to generate attention and play under the bright lights of a major media market. The Cleveland Indians play in Cleveland, and they just lost 94 games, and last year their Opening Day payroll was under $70 million. On paper, Swisher and the Indians aren’t much of a fit, but that didn’t stop Swisher from signing a four-year contract with the Indians worth $56 million. A fifth-year vesting option would increase the value to $70 million. Few saw Cleveland being Swisher’s eventual destination, but recently the Indians put on the full-court press, and they were able to twist Swisher’s arm. One thing that’s unclear is the nature of Swisher’s free-agent market. Publicly, there wasn’t much of a sweepstakes, so Swisher might not have had many alternatives. But this can be sold as Swisher opting to go home, since he was born in Columbus, went to high school in West Virginia, and went to college at Ohio State. To the average person, going to Cleveland would hold a certain amount of appeal; to Swisher, going to Cleveland would hold a higher amount of appeal, presumably. So there’s that angle at play. The roster fit is easy, because the Indians recently dealt Shin-Soo Choo, and Swisher will simply replace him in right field. Choo would’ve left after the season, whereas Swisher could be around for a while. It’s funny what happens when you compare the two: 2010-2012 statistics Swisher: 129 wRC+ Choo: 131 wRC+ Swisher: 11.9 WAR Choo: 10.2 WAR Swisher: 12% walks Choo: 11% walks Swisher: 21% strikeouts Choo: 21% strikeouts Nick Swisher and Shin-Soo Choo are hardly clones of one another, but they do have a lot in common, so the Indians shouldn’t miss Choo’s productivity going forward. To replace their departed right fielder, the Indians acquired a similar right fielder. Overall, is Swisher worth a four-year, $56-million contract? Based on the Contract Crowdsourcing results, the FanGraphs audience projected that Swisher would land a…four-year, $56-million contract. Dave Cameron identified that as his top free-agent value. Said Dave in early November: He’s the safest bet in the entire class, and a four year deal would only take him through age 35. If a team can actually get Swisher for 4/56, they should jump on it before the rest of the league realizes that they’re skipping out on a bargain. Swisher’s a good player — he’s been a good player for a long time — and good players can and do cost $14 million a season. For whatever it’s worth, over the past four seasons, Swisher’s player page says he’s been worth about $66 million. Factor in some inflation to offset some decline and you have what looks like a perfectly reasonable deal. But is Swisher worth this contract to an Indians team that doesn’t seem to be on the verge of contention? Recently, we defended the Cubs’ pursuit of Anibal Sanchez, and their acquisition of Edwin Jackson. A big part of the argument is that there’s value in improving the on-field product, even if you don’t make the playoffs, and you can never know when you might make the playoffs. Our team projections are not nearly as precise as one would like them to be. Last year, the Indians won just 68 games, but the year before that they won 80 games with a similar roster and they were within two games of the division lead in the middle of August. The Indians might not be close, but they might be closer than we think, and of course, Swisher isn’t under contract only for 2013. Interestingly, something working in the Indians’ favor was that Swisher was extended a qualifying offer by the Yankees, but the Indians’ first-round draft pick is protected. While the Indians lose a pick for signing Swisher, they don’t lose as high a pick as another team would’ve, so the value of that lost pick is lower. The Indians, then, could put together a stronger contract offer. When it comes to Swisher’s skillset, there are questions about his defense, and he isn’t a burner on the basepaths. His value comes from his above-average on-base ability and his above-average power. Swisher is a switch-hitter, and what I find most interesting is how his platoon splits break down: wRC+ ISO BB% K% Pull% GB% BABIP as RHB 129 0.171 17% 16% 50% 37% 0.297 as LHB 116 0.228 12% 24% 46% 37% 0.289 Swisher has historically been productive from both sides, but he’s been differently productive in different ways. Batting righty against lefties, Swisher has walked as often as he’s struck out, and he’s hit for slightly above-average power. Batting lefty against righties, Swisher has struck out twice as often as he’s walked, and he’s hit for far more power. Swisher has hit 47 home runs batting right-handed, and he’s pulled 45 of them. He’s hit 162 home runs batting left-handed, and he’s pulled 105 of them. From the right side, Swisher’s a pure pull guy, while he can spray the ball better as a lefty. We have a little more PITCHf/x data going back to 2008: Swing% Contact% In Play% as RHB 35% 85% 45% as LHB 42% 76% 36% As a righty, Swisher’s been more selective, and he’s been better about making contact. These numbers were suggested by the earlier numbers, but here we get confirmation. If you’re wondering, this is what Swisher’s swings look like, or at least this is what Swisher’s swings looked like once: In New York, Swisher’s home stadium was far more friendly to lefty hitters than righty hitters. In Cleveland, Swisher’s home stadium will be far more friendly to lefty hitters than righty hitters. It’s less friendly to both, but we can account for park effects, now. Progressive Field won’t alter Swisher’s overall value as a player. One thing you can’t do with Swisher is just assume he’ll remain consistent, since he’s been consistent. The fact that he’s been the same player four years in a row doesn’t mean he’ll be the same player in 2013 or 2014, because consistency isn’t nearly as predictive as one might imagine. A consistent player is consistent only up until he is not anymore. Hell, if Swisher’s so consistent, what happened to him in 2008? This isn’t to say that Swisher’s consistency is a bad thing, though, and as projections are concerned, Swisher’s are favorable. Because he’s been good, he should stay pretty good over the life of this contract. Over the life of this contract, maybe the Indians will become pretty good, too. I’m sure they’d like that. Nick Swisher is a former Yankee with an actress wife, and he’s committed himself and his family to Cleveland, Ohio. Little about this outcome was predictable, but Swisher found his money in a familiar environment, and the Indians got themselves a potential bargain. As Christmas presents go, those are better than socks, unless they’re like really sweet socks.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Gregg Marshall's show canceled, Bama speculation grows

Report: Shaka Smart in discussions with Texas

Report: Rick Barnes expected to land at Tennessee

Demaryius Thomas planning to skip Broncos' workouts

Rockets GM: We think we can win NBA title despite injuries

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Browns GM Ray Farmer suspended over text messages

Aaron Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box after murder

Byron Scott: Opposing players say they want to play for Lakers

Falcons reportedly will lose pick over pumping in crowd noise

Report: Sam Bradford wouldn't sign extension with Browns

Jimbo Fisher: Winston is victim of ‘character assassination’

Joe Namath parties with twin 100 year-old women

WATCH: Mike Napoli hits home run as bat shatters

WATCH: Marc Gasol misses shot, rips jersey in disgust

PHOTO: Minor league team to wear Jabba the Hutt jerseys

Lions LB DeAndre Levy takes ride on top of a moving plane

Colts owner addresses Indiana religious freedom bill

John Calipari addresses controversial ND comments

Arizona coach Sean Miller rips critics: 'Go cheer for ASU'

Report: NFL could push extra point back to 15-yard line

Urban Meyer: 'No issue' with Braxton Miller's Instagram post

Tiger Woods drops out of top 100 for first time in 19 years

Top 10 stories from NCAA Tourney's second weekend

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Shaka Smart talking to Texas

Rick Barnes to land at Tennessee?

Browns GM suspended for texts

Hernandez's fiancee disposed of box

Mayweather-Pacquiao: It's sparring tall-tale season

The MLBPA has a problem

Final Four preview: Can every team win?

Full WrestleMania 31 recap and results

Why Texas had to fire Rick Barnes

Craig Sager's leukemia has returned

Report: Chris Mullin to take St. John's job

Report: NFL looking into more cameras

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.