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A healthy Nick Swisher would give the Cleveland Indians stability

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Even with his injuries last year, Nick Swisher led the team in DH PA. He likely will again this year, but what does that mean for the team?

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Previous entries in my position-by-position comparison of the 2014 and 2015 Indians:

Catcher

First Base

Second Base

Shortstop

Third Base

Left Field

Center Field

Right Field

We wrap up the position players by looking at DH. Last year, Nick Swisher played more DH than anyone else, but his health and his bat, let him down. This year, he is supposedly healthy and ready to go. So will that make DH any better?

A reminder: I pulled a list of every player who took the field in that role for the Indians in 2014, listed their wOBA and UZR/150, and the percentage of the team's PA they took in that position.

For the 2015 stats, you are seeing ZiPS projections for wOBA and my projection for UZR/150 based on what the player has done in the past. The 2015 playing time projections are also mine.

For wOBA, the 2014 numbers are position specific (meaning, for example, that in this post you're seeing what Santana did only when he was playing first base), while the 2015 numbers assume the player has the same wOBA regardless of where they play on the diamond. UZR/150 is always position-specific.

The Indians Total line is the pro-rated average of the guys who played (or will play) the position based on playing time; the AL average line is exactly what it sounds like - the average production for the league at the position.


Designated Hitter

Player 14 wOBA 14 PT 15 wOBA 15 PT
Nick Swisher 0.287 22.7% 0.310 50%
0.340 14.1% 0.355 20%
0.221 12.8%
0.257 10.5%
0.231 10.1%
0.447 9.4%
0.529 5.9%
0.626 5.5% 0.335 10%
0.188 3.2%
0.143 1.7%
0.230 1.4% 0.295 10%
0 1.4%
0.362 1.0%
JB Shuck 0 0.3%
0.345 10%
Indians Total 0.314 0.324
AL Average 0.321

The Indians rotated about a million players through the DH spot last year, including some who absolutely crushed the ball from that spot. Unfortunately, 55% of the plate appearances went to an aging and dinged up Nick Swisher, a lost Ryan Raburn, an all-or-nothing Zach Walters, and a washed up Jason Giambi. Those guys managed to drag down some stellar performances to the point that the Indians had a below average line at DH in 2014.

So this year we expect Swisher to a) take the job closer to full time, b) bounce back, and c) be more healthy. And I projected all three of those things, but that didn't help much. The problem is, even with a solid return, ZiPS doesn't think Swisher is quite up to the task of being a DH.

The good news is that with the rotation of players taking time at 1B and RF, plus what I imagine will be an effort to keep Yan Gomes bat in the lineup, the 50% of PA I gave to players other than Swisher are well above average.

Overall, the addition of Moss and the stability elsewhere on the field will give the Indians some options to turn DH from a slight weakness into an even slighter strength. Being just barely above average doesn't typically qualify as good news, but it's a meaningful improvement over 2014.

Do you think Swisher plays that much? Are other players more likely to back him up at DH? Maybe you think Chisenhall becomes the full-time DH with Jose Ramirez or Giovanny Urshela taking over at 3B?