Nick Swisher: a little bit Roberto Clemente, a little bit Von Hayes
With Nick Swisher’s new deal with the Indians, let’s take a look at some comps and projections for his career performance.
Here are players who, through their Age 31 season, had a 118 OPS+ (minimum 4000 plate appearances):
This is quite a list. Some guys are greats. Some guys are overrated. Some guys are underrated.
What might the future hold for Swisher? Here’s what the guys on the list above did for the rest of their careers:
These guys are ranked by plate appearances. Three folks from the 1st list don’t show up on this one: Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson both just finished their Age 31 seasons, so they have no stats for Age 32 onward. Nick Markasis is actually still younger, and so he shouldn’t really even be on the first list.
There are a few guys on this list–Munson, Stone, and Barfield–who played just one more season despite a solid OPS+ through Age 31. Munson died late in his Age 32 season, while Stone’s performance trailed off and he contracted tuberculosis in that final season. Barfield was just done.
Two guys really stick out–Clemente and Beltran both blossomed at Age 31 and actually hit much better in the second half of their careers. Beltran, of course, benefits from having not finished his career yet–we can expect his OPS+ to trail off.
Looking at these 13 guys, their post-31 career average performance is 1,516 plate appearances with a weighted average OPS+ of, you guessed it, 118.
The good news for the Indians is that they can reasonably expect Swisher to maintain his career OPS+ of 118, which is a decline from his recent years but well within reasonable expectation. The bad news is that if he manages only 1,516 plate appearances, he won’t have played all that much on his new 4-year contract.
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