Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Right Field: Nady vs. Swisher

Joe Girardi came out and announced that Xavier Nady would be the starting right fielder. Nick Swisher said all the right things in response. There has been a bit of discussion about Joe’s decision and many people have opined that Swisher is the strongest candidate.

Doing a quick review myself, Nady seems to have the better bat, with a better average and more power. Swisher is by far the better baserunner. The Bill James Handbook rates Nady as the better defensive fielder. Fans of the Baseball Prospectus will note that they give Swisher a slightly higher projection for 2009 in the VORP and WARP categories.

Just looking at the various stats makes me thing Nady is the best man for the job, with better hitting and better fielding. There’s more to the story than that, however.

We haven’t fully established where these players are going performance-wise. Swisher had an off year last year and it’s up in the air whether he can re-establish the success he had in 2007. Likewise Nady slumped a bit for the Yankees compared to his performance in Pittsburgh. Both of these guys have big question marks as to what direction they are heading. Getting back to the level of play they are capable of or continuing to decline.

The final factor that may get overlooked is the clubhouse effect. From what I gather, Nick has made an impression on the other guys including Girardi, and it would be tough to see him go. This kind of thing doesn’t show up in the stats, but I think really goes a long way to helping a team.

My overall impression is that Nady is probably the better player at the position, but you need to keep Swisher around to platoon at RF and 1B as a solid backup and overall morale booster.

If the right offer comes along, however, don’t be surprised if one of these guys gets moved.

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