Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Issue With Swish's Splits

While reading the always excellent Mike Axisa game recap on RAB of last night's ass whooping of Alexi Ogando, I was struck by this particular bit on Nick Swisher: 

"I thought Paul O’Neill did a fine job of breaking down Swisher’s left-handed swing during the broadcast, showing how he was opening up early and getting off balance. He hasn’t had those same problems from the right-side, which is why he went 2-for-3 with a double and a homer off lefties Michael Kirkman and Arthur Rhodes while drawing just a measly walk off righty Alexi Ogando. Swish is now hitting .176/.315/.284 off righties but .356/.439/.576 off lefties. That has to fix itself at some point, right?"

For one, I had no idea that Swish's splits were that awful.  Admittedly, I had never checked them in great detail this season, so I just assumed he was equally awful from both sides of the plate early in the season and had been hitting equally better from both sides during his recent resurgence.  To justify my ignorance to this situation, I will point out that Swish hit .286/.330/.549 from the left side of the plate in 384 at-bats and .291/.414/.429 from the right side in 182 at-bats just last year.  Why should I have expected anything different this season?

But the second thing that struck me about this bit of info was Mike's assumption that this issue with Swish is something that should/will fix itself as the season moves along.  We're talking about an over 400-point difference in OPS from what is typically Swish's stronger side of the plate in 2.5 times more ABs.  This isn't just something that should be expected to work itself with a little BABIP luck here and there. This, to me, represents something fundamentally wrong with Swish's mechanics and approach as a left-handed hitter right now.  If Paul O'Neill can call it out clear as day on the TV broadcast, then surely other people can recognize it too.  And when it comes to recognizing problems with a swing and correcting them, there's one man on the Yankee staff that needs to be involved in fixing them.

"Paging Dr. Long.  Dr. Long, you have a patient suffering from a severe case of lefty-swinging unbalance waiting for you in the lobby.  Dr. Long."

Methinks that Swish and Dr. Long need to get together for a quick checkup on that lefty approach and get things straightened out, especially considering they've already put so much time and work into retooling Swish's approach that got him the career-best results he's already had as a Yankee.  And sooner rather than later.  He's going to face a lot more right-handed pitching this season than he is left-handed.  Getting that swing fixed against those righties will help get Swish's production back to where it should be a lot faster.  They didn't sit back and wait for Swish's approach to fix itself when he first got to New York.  Why wait for it to fix itself now?

No comments: