When Gardner Returns, Swisher's Pinstripes Should Vanish

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When Gardner Returns, Swisher's Pinstripes Should Vanish
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

I specifically chose this photo because I believe when Brett Gardner finally returns from a broken thumb, Nick Swisher should not be seen in pinstripes for the rest of the season.

I'm not talking about removing him from the team completely. I just mean he shouldn't wear the uniform containing the pinstripes.

Normally, I don't put a ton of stock in splits. Eventually, they turn into something like: "He's got an 950 OPS against left-handed rookie pitchers on Tuesday nights" and lose all meaning.

But Nick Swisher's home/road splits are so drastic, I'm beginning to think there's something to them.

Swisher's home numbers: .200/.373/.309 3 HR's, 20 RBI

Swisher's road numbers: .283/.363/.622 20 HR's, 52 RBI

I know we all love on-base percentage, but there's simply no ignoring these power numbers.

Away from Yankee Stadium, Swisher's slugging percentage would be good for second in baseball, behind Albert Pujols. At home, it would be good for 158th, just behind Emilio Bonifacio. Over the course of some 60 games both at home and the road, that's too big to ignore.

Let's assume a couple of things regarding the Yankees OF/DH options in the postseason.

1) Johnny Damon will play every day, probably in left, although he may DH if Matsui can't. (Because someone's got to lead off)

2) Gardner or Melky Cabrera will play every day (Because no-one else can play center)

3) Since Hideki Matsui is too good a hitter to leave out of the lineup, he'll be the primary DH and play most every day unless hurt.

 

So when Gardner comes back, that means you've got two options for your everyday right fielder: Cabrera and Swisher. (Gardner doesn't seem to have the arm to play right)

At this point, wouldn't it make sense to start Swisher in just the road games and Cabrera in just the home games?

So your road OF/DH situation would look like this:

Damon-Gardner-Swisher-Matsui

And your home situation would look like this:

Damon-Gardner-Cabrera-Matsui

Obviously, all this is contingent on Gardner's return from his injury and ability to competently swing a bat. But assuming he does, this would seem, to me at least, to be the optimal solution.

Sure, we could argue Cabrera over Gardner on the road if you wanted, although to me, adding a dash of base-stealing to a lineup already loaded with power provides more balance. And with Cabrera slumping horribly right now, I don't think you'd lose as much offensively, although you would lose a good arm.

As far as playing Gardner over Swisher at home, what you lose in walks, you make up with in speed and defense. For whatever reason, Swisher's power is nonexistent at home.

Nick Swisher's been a great pickup for the Yankees, probably one of the better pickups in all of baseball this season. But, come October, I'd prefer to only see him in grey.

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