WPA #9: Swisher’s Proud Moment

Nick Swisher may have had a relatively poor season in his White Sox debut, but he did manage to have at least one shining moment in 2008. Overall, he put up a .219/.332/.410 line. Though he still walked plenty of the time and managed to produce an almost identical ISO to the year before, his .251 BABIP definitely hurt his total production. Even if it had been closer to .280, still well below the average, his overall line would have looked much different, the OPS would not have been as drastically lower than the previous two seasons, and not as many would have looked down on him as they did this season. Regardless, on August 5, Nick the Stick gave us the ninth-biggest swing in win expectancy, in a game he didn’t even start!

Paul Konerko started the game at first base, hitting in the sixth spot, but was lifted after his plate appearance in the tenth inning. Swisher relieved him of his duty, and managed to record two plate appearances from the 11th-14th inning. The game graph is below:


In the bottom of the fourteenth, the Tigers sent flamethrower Joel Zumaya to the hill with an 8-6 lead, hoping to add to the Tigers win column. Zumaya had missed the first half of the season, but in his first fourteen appearances since returning from the deal, posted a 1.65 ERA. His walks and strikeouts were another story (15 BB and 16 K in those 14 outings), but he had been getting the job done. He then proceeded to give up one earned run in each of his next three outings, so his hot streak had been extinguished.

At the start of the frame, the White Sox had a 10.3% of winning the game. Orlando Cabrera greeted Zumaya with a single to left field, increasing their win expectancy to 19.9%. AJ Pierzynski then flew out, decreasing their expectancy to 11%. Carlos Quentin made up for the flyout by doubling to right field, putting runners at second and third, and giving the White Sox a 30.5% shot at actually winning the game. With one out and two runners in scoring position, Jermaine Dye hit a grounder to Edgar Renteria, who couldn’t handle the ball, allowing Cabrera to score, Quentin to move to third base, and Dye to reach base on the error.

With the score now 8-7, and runners on the corners with one out, it would take nothing more than a flyout to tie the game. In stepped Jim Thome. The White Sox now had a 47.5% chance of winning this game. Unfortunately, Thome could not get his bat on the ball, and he struck out swinging, reducing their expectancy to 21.2%. This set the stage for Nick Swisher. With two outs, runners on the corners, and an 8-7 deficit, Swisher prepared to face Zumaya. The first two pitches were balls, giving him the opportunity to sit dead-red and wait for a fastball. He then took strike one, making the count 2-1, before Zumaya reached back and delivered a fastball. Swisher jumped all over hit and sent the ball into the stands, delivering a walkoff three-run home run.

The home run, which gave the White Sox a 10-8 victory, swung the win expectancy by 78.8%, the ninth highest offensive swing from this season.

We hoped you liked reading WPA #9: Swisher’s Proud Moment by Eric Seidman!

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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I was half expecting to see the Presidential election graphed here… could the Election 08 be WPA #1?

Looking at Swisher’s season, I was expecting to see a large decrease in line drive % and/or an increase in FB% or IFFB%… I can’t believe they are all practically consistent with with his career… LD% actually increased.

Seems Swisher was pretty damn unlucky. I think it would be interesting to see who was the luckiest/unluckiest players of the season.