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Don't call it a comeback

Sep 9, 2009, 9:53 AM EDT

Nick Swisher had a great night last night:  two homers, including the walkoff job.  He’s had a great season, too: he’s hitting .254/.378/.506 with 26 homers, many of those in key situations.  The New York fans love him too, and no matter how good a year Jeter, Teixeira, and Rivera are having, one gets the sense that, if this Yankees team wins it all (and with the hype they’re starting to get, it will be a disappointment if they don’t), Swisher is going to get an outsized amount of credit for it.

Given how poor his 2008 was, he’ll also likely get a ton of consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year award.  The Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig, however, wants you to know that Swisher’s 2009 has less to do with him doing anything to “come back” than it does with him simply avoiding the awful luck he had in 2008:

What’s changed? Well, scenery, for one. Swisher is having a lot more fun contributing to a winning team in New York than he did languishing for a winning team in Chicago. That’s to be expected.

But the real answer lies in Swisher’s luck.

It’s not so much that Swisher has gotten incredibly lucky this season. It’s more that his luck hasn’t been horrendous.

According to Fangraphs, Swisher’s line drive rate this season is 16.5, which is actually a dropoff from his miserable 2008 campaign. But unlike last year, there is virtually no difference between his expected BABIP (.285) and his actual BABIP (.286).

In other words, even though he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he did in ’08, Swisher is getting exactly what he deserves for the contact that he is making.

A lot of folks have been surprised by Swisher’s season, but given how freakish his 2008 BABIP was, the stat savvy aren’t. And you can probably include Brian Cashman in that group, so kudos to the GM for making a wise move in acquiring him.

And heck, you can still give him the Comeback Player of the Year award if you want to.  He’s from West Virginia and went to Ohio State, and guys like that are pretty awesome no matter how good or bad their luck happens to be.

  1. Grant - Sep 9, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    Who are the other “candidates” for comeback player, anyway? I can’t really think of any, so Swisher might as well get it.

  2. Motherscratcher - Sep 9, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    You got me thinking Grant. I hate to say it (don’t the Yankees already get enough credit?) but Robinson Cano has to be considered. His stats are a lot better than last year.
    I’d still rather see it go to Swisher, though.

  3. cosmic charlie - Sep 9, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    Michael Cuddyer? Russell Branyan? Francisco Liriano?
    (just kidding on that last one)

  4. Jason @ IIATMS - Sep 9, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    Brett Favre?
    Verlander certainly has bounced back huge this year.
    Kendry Morales?
    Edwin Jackson?

  5. scatterbrian - Sep 9, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    Freakish are his home/road splits in terms of homers. But I’ve assumed for most of the season that Aaron Hill was the CPoY in the AL. The NL is interesting though, with Carpenter (who also won in 2004) perhaps leading the way, but there may be some votes given to Tulowitzki and Zito.

  6. Grant - Sep 9, 2009 at 2:35 PM

    Are injuries important in Comeback Player voting? If so then Hill is a strong candidate (he was injured last year, right?). Same with Carpenter.
    If injuries don’t count, then I still like Swisher and Zito.

  7. Nick Giuffre - Sep 9, 2009 at 2:47 PM

    N.Y. can keep him. He lost more games in 08 then he contributed to.

  8. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Sep 9, 2009 at 2:54 PM

    Ozzie is that you?

  9. scatterbrian - Sep 9, 2009 at 5:15 PM

    Comeback Player of the Year ≠ breakout player or most improved player. I think Branyan, Morales and Jackson fall into the latter. None of them had ever really established a previous level of production. Cuddyer and Verlander did, and are good choices as well, though Verlander wasn’t really that terrible last season. I guess I’ve always thought of the CPoY as either a guy coming back from an injury/major setback or possibly a demotion, not necessarily from a sub-par or lost season.

  10. Chris H. - Sep 9, 2009 at 7:10 PM

    So, Nick, I’m guessing you completely missed the whole BABIP argument.
    As, I’m also guessing, did Kenny Williams; there’s no other explanation for his buy-high-sell-low approach with Swisher.

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