Sports

Nick Swisher: Hottest Batter in Baseball

| by Hardball Times

Nick Swisher has been merry in the month of May. Over the last three days, Ozzie Guillen's favorite player has gone 8-for-12 with a double and two home runs. Bill James Online says he's the third-hottest batter in the majors, with a temperature of 104 degrees. But the two hottest batters (Alfonso Soriano and Andre Ethier) didn't play yesterday so Swisher gets top billing today.

The other hot batter of note is one of the biggest surprises of the early season, Detroit's Austin Jackson. Jackson has a fever of 102, going 6-for-10 in his last two games with two doubles and a triple (he also went 5-for-5 last Friday, though all of his hits were singles). His batting average is a season-high .377.

Our featured game graph is the Reds/Mets game, won by the Reds on a Laynce Nix home run in the 11th. As you can see, neither team established much of a lead. In fact, neither team managed much of a threat in the late innings, when the Leverage Index never rose up to five. Nix's solo homer with one out broke the game without any mounting tension. Of course, Reds' fans aren't complaining. (By the way, my latest issue of Baseball America, Jim Callis predicts that the Reds will win the division in 2013 "with ease.")

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One of the casualties of our decision to drop stats in favor of Fangraphs was our team page, which included summary stats and graphics for each team. That page actually didn't get a lot of traffic, but it was my favorite part of the site. I learned a lot putting it together each morning.

So I decided to recreate that stuff. First of all, I've put together a standings table in the same format we had last year. Here it is:

Standings as 5/4/2010
American League East RS RA PWINS DIFF Close
TBR 18 7 .720 147 80 19 -1 7-4
NYY 17 8 .680 140 90 18 -1 5-6
TOR 14 13 .519 127 116 15 -1 5-9
BOS 12 14 .462 131 142 12 0 9-8
BAL 7 19 .269 91 133 9 -2 5-9
American League Central
MIN 17 9 .654 140 99 17 0 7-3
DET 16 11 .593 132 126 14 2 8-6
CHW 11 15 .423 107 130 11 0 7-9
CLE 10 15 .400 86 121 9 1 5-4
KCR 10 16 .385 104 137 10 0 7-8
American League West
TEX 14 12 .538 115 105 14 0 7-7
OAK 13 14 .481 115 115 14 -1 6-5
LAA 12 15 .444 110 147 10 2 8-6
SEA 11 14 .440 86 90 12 -1 7-9

National League East RS RA PWINS DIFF
PHI 14 11 .560 139 110 15 -1 5-5
NYM 14 12 .538 112 97 15 -1 3-6
WSN 13 12 .520 104 124 10 3 8-3
FLA 13 12 .520 123 114 13 0 6-6
ATL 11 14 .440 102 105 12 -1 4-7
National League Central
STL 18 8 .692 123 79 18 0 8-6
CHC 13 13 .500 129 117 14 -1 5-8
CIN 13 13 .500 112 140 10 3 10-5
PIT 10 15 .400 86 175 5 5 7-1
MIL 10 15 .400 128 138 12 -2 5-5
HOU 8 17 .320 73 125 7 1 5-5
National League West
SDP 16 10 .615 117 84 17 -1 5-4
SFG 14 10 .583 108 70 16 -2 2-7
COL 13 13 .500 131 104 16 -3 4-7
ARI 12 14 .462 153 156 13 -1 6-5
LAD 11 14 .440 131 133 12 -1 4-7

Check out the Pirates, who have the second-worst record in the National League at 10-15. The thing is, they're 7-1 in close games (those decided by one or two runs), which means that they are a full five games ahead of the record we would project based on runs scored and allowed. Their "luck" has doubled their win total!

How have they done it? Well, their hitting and bullpen have both been clutch. Their otherwise mediocre offense has the fourth-best league OPS in "late and close" situations and their bullpen, which has the second-worst ERA in the majors, has an above-average WPA of 0.98.

Guess what? It won't last.

Read more great baseball stuff at The Hardball Times.