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Nick Swisher

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Nicolas Thompson Swisher

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[edit] Biographical Information

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Nick Swisher came up originally in 2004, hit over 20 home runs in 2005, over 30 home runs in 2006, and over 20 home runs in 2007. In spite of his considerable power, he was being used as a lead-off batter by the Chicago White Sox in 2008, because he draws walks well.

The son of former Major League catcher Steve Swisher, he was born in Columbus, OH in 1980. He attended Ohio State University, where he had three good years: in 2000, he was chosen Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year, as he posted numbers of .299/.389/.549 with 10 homers. In 2001, he was an All-Star first baseman in the conference, as he posted .322/.492/.672 with 15 homers. In 2002, he was an All-Star outfielder in the conference, as he posted .348/.470/.620 with 10 homers.

He was drafted in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft by the Oakland Athletics. He was signed by scout Rich Sparks and debuted with the Vancouver in the Northwest League for 13 games, where he hit .250/.433/.455. They then moved him to Visalia in the California League for 49 games, where his numbers were also modest: .240/.340/.399.

Swisher and his wife in 2011.

In 2003, he was again in the California League, this time with Modesto, and his numbers were better, as he posted a line of .296/.418/.550 with 10 home runs in 51 games. That earned him a promotion to Midland in the AA Texas League, where he hit .230/.324/.380.

In 2004, he had a break-through year with Sacramento in the AAA Pacific Coast League, where he hit 29 homers and 28 doubles, posting a line of .269/.406/.537. That earned him a chance at the big leagues, where he played in 20 games with Oakland, hitting .250/.352/.417 at the age of 23.

2005 saw him spend almost the whole season with the A's, as his numbers were .236/.322/.446. Although his average was low, he had 21 home runs and 32 doubles. He spent 6 games back in Sacramento, with good numbers of .391/.462/.522.

He started fast in 2006, hitting 10 home runs in April with a .738 slugging percentage. He gave new teammate Frank Thomas some credit for his fast start, but things went a little down in May, when he still slugged .551, but then in June and July, his slugging average was under .340 each month. He finished the season with 35 home runs and a .493 slugging percentage. He also drew 97 walks, for a solid .372 OBP in spite of a middling .254 batting average, and he scored over 100 runs for the first time, with 106.

Swisher in Yankee pinstripes in 2009

In January of 2008, Swisher was dealt to the Chicago White Sox for Fautino De Los Santos, Ryan Sweeney and Gio Gonzalez. He spent one season in Chicago, falling out with manager Ozzie Guillen as he put up a poor batting average. By the time the ALDS came around, he was no longer a starter, having lost his job to journeyman Dewayne Wise. After the season, he was traded to the New York Yankees in return for infielder Wilson Betemit.

On April 13, 2009, Swisher pitched the 8th inning of a 15-5 blowout of the Yankees by the Tampa Bay Rays. Swisher pitched one inning in relief of Phil Coke. The inning consisted of a walk to B.J. Upton, a single to Willy Aybar, a strikeout of Gabe Kapler, a pop fly out to second base for Carlos Pena, and a fly out to center field by Pat Burrell. He was originally expected to share the Yankees' right field job with Xavier Nady, but Nady got hurt early in the year, while Swisher showed good power and plate discipline to claim the job full time. Still, his batting average started going down at the end of June and the Yankees acquired Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates to give Swisher an occasional rest.

On December 23, 2012, Swisher signed a four-year free agent deal with the Cleveland Indians for $56 million. The deal was officially announced on January 3, 2013, when Swisher was introduced to the local media at a press conference. He was expected to move to first base, following other deals such as the signing of CF Michael Bourn. However, he missed the start of spring training when his mother passed away in early February, and he left his teammates to be present at the funeral in Columbus, OH. He found himself on the wrong end of two embarrassing plays in one game against the Detroit Tigers on July 8th. In the bottom of the 8th he hit a slow roller in foul territory down the third base line, and stayed next to the batter's box, convinced it was a foul ball; however, the ball dipped towards the line, and as soon as it touched the chalk, becoming fair, catcher Brayan Pena picked it up and ran full steam back to the plate to tag Nick, who had not moved. If that wasn't bad enough, he then made a comic tumble while rounding third base with two outs in the 10th inning, trying to score from second base on a single by Michael Brantley. He ended up prone on the ground and unable to score, and had to retreat back to the bag, where he could only watch as Mike Aviles struck out to end the game. He was a key figure in the Indians' late-season surge in a five-team race for the two wild card spots in the American League. On September 15th, he hit two homers in a game to lead Cleveland to a 7-1 win over the White Sox that brought the team within a half-game of the wild card. The homers were hit from both sides of the plate, the 13th time he had accomplished the feat in his career, a total that tied former teammate Mark Teixeira for most ever. He hit .246 in 145 games in the regular season, banging 27 doubles and 22 homers, scoring 74 runs and driving in 93. he then went 0 for 4 as the Indians were blanked by the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Game.

On June 19, 2014, Nick hit a walk-off grand slam with two outs in the 10th inning against Ernesto Frieri of the Los Angeles Angeles Angels of Anaheim, giving the Tribe a come-from-behind 5-3 win. It was a rare highlight in a difficult season that saw him hit only .208 in 97 games, with 8 homers and 42 RBIs. All three totals represented career lows (not counting his 20-game trial at the end of 2004) and the season ended a streak of 9 consecutive years with 20 or more homers. His year ended early when he underwent arthroscopic surgeries on both knees on August 20th.

Swisher goes through an elaborate ritual before each pitch while batting. He will step in and out of the batter's box, tuck his sleeve, adjust his batting helmet, look skyward, tap the plate with his bat, then set up to wait for the pitch. All the gestures are accomplished in exactly the same order. The sequence helps him to focus, and forces the pitcher to slow down, messing up his timing. While he used the full routine during his first few seasons with the Yankees, he shortened it in later years after remarks that he was unduly delaying the game with his ritual.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • AL All-Star (2010)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 9 (2005-2013)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2006)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2006)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009

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