A Defense Of Swisher

Nick Swisher has been a frustrating player to watch this season.  For all the good he does with the bat, he goes into lengthy slumps and his defense in right can be frightening to watch.  Spurred on by some comments on various posts on this site, I decided to take a deeper look into his defensive play.  Here is what I found out.

Let me say up front that defense is a tough nut ot crack.  There are a lot of different ways to look at it, but I find the "Revised Zone Rating" method that Hardball Times uses to be the best.   Using their methodology, the average rightfielder mades 87% of the plays in his "zone" in 2007.

Swisher is well above-average in this category, making plays on 93.3% of the balls hit to his area.  Just for comparison sake, I looked at Abreu’s defense in 2008 and found that he made only 87.2% of the plays in his zone.  Of further interest, Siwsher has made 31 "out of zone" plays in right this year- basically balls that he probably shouldn’t get to.  Abreu made only a total of 32 all year in 2008. (I also compared Teixeria’s defense in 2009 with Giambi’s in 2008 and found that Teixeira made 80.8% of the plays compared to Giambi’s 67.9%.)

While Swisher covers enough ground, it is his arm that is a weakness.  To date, he has only thrown out 1 runner.  This is a consistent problem for Nick, he only threw out 3 runners in 2007 and 2008 respectively. 

So, my conclusions are that despite his arm, Swisher makes the plays he should and when you factor in his bat, he is an above-average rightfielder.