A Season Lost: Nick Swisher’s Disappearing Act

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What Happened To Nick Swisher In 2014?

Jul 12, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Nick Swisher (33) walks back to the dugout after striking out during the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. The White Sox beat the Indians 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Swisher was awful in 2014. You can’t sugarcoat it, not even if you tried.

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Battling through one of the worst seasons of his career, the Governor of BrOhio just couldn’t seem to find his swing this year. After hyperextending his knee back in May, Swisher went on the 15-day disabled list. After being activated in June, it took three games for Indians fans to see a glimmer of hope, as Swisher hit a game-winning home run against the Red Sox.

Four days later, on June 19th against the Angels, Swisher did it again, belting a game-winning grand slam, this time, in extra innings. Though the hits weren’t always falling for who some call the heart and soul of this Indians team, Swisher, as always, stayed positive. “I think he’s going to be really motivated,” Francona said. “Regardless of how much money you’ve made, guys want to be good players. He’s going to have his work cut out for him this winter, but hopefully getting a head start on it is good.”

Fans and media on the other hand weren’t always so forgiving. As the season progressed, it seemed as if Swisher would never come out of it. Finally, on August 20, the Indians shut the beleaguered slugger down as he opted to have knee surgery. Seemingly plagued by injuries all year, fans (and perhaps the team as well) wondered what was next.

What Went Wrong?

After surging last September to lead the playoff push, Swisher could barely get above .200 for most of the season, posting career lows across the board. Last season, after signing his big 4 year, $56 million contract, Swisher hit .246/.341/ .423 with 22 HR and 63 RBI. In September, he almost single-handedly carried the Tribe to the Wild Card game before becoming as shrinking violet, going 0-4 with two strikeouts and leaving two men in scoring position.

This was the year of unfinished business. It never got there, at least not with too many contributions from the Tribe first baseman. The injuries added up, and one has to wonder just how much age plays into a guy who had at least 20 HR and over 60 RBI for nine straight seasons. With the emergence of Carlos Santana as a legitimate every day first basemen, Swisher’s role moving forward remains cloudy at best.

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Manager Terry Francona doesn’t seem overly concerned about his slugger’s return to form next season. “I think he’s going to be really motivated,” Francona said. “Regardless of how much money you’ve made, guys want to be good players. He’s going to have his work cut out for him this winter, but hopefully getting a head start on it is good.”

Though his contract appears gregarious in the grand scheme of things, with a projected payroll of around $80-$85 million again next season (and the team already confirming that major free agents will not be a target in the offseason), it’s almost a guarantee Swisher returns next season. Not many teams want his contract and the return would be limited as well, so the trade route is probably out too. The best bet remains Swisher returns to form after rehabbing his knees and leads the team in both spirit and with the bat once again.

For Tribe fans, it’s fingers-crossed as we all know there’s still unfinished business left, for both Swisher and the Indians.

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