Nick Swisher is our starting first baseman, but is he meeting Cleveland’s expectations? Furthermore, is he worth all of the money and effort we are investing into him? In the month of January, the Cleveland Indians and Nick Swisher agreed to a four-year $56 million contract. A big contract like this one can come with a lot of pressure and it seems like Swisher is succumbing to it as well.

This same type of situation happened to Larry Hughes. Hughes signed a big contract to be LeBron James’s running mate on the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, he performed at the worst of his career because of the pressure from the contract. This can otherwise be known as the “Larry Hughes Syndrome” in Cleveland.

Statistics can help us see how the “Larry Hughes Syndrome” is affecting Nick Swisher. Based on Swisher’s batting average, he has not played this poorly since 2008, while playing with the White Sox’s. So far Nick Swisher’s batting average with the White Sox’s, a .219, has been his worst average yet. At the moment, his batting average is exactly the same as it was in his 2009 season with the Yankees. However, he is projected to hit the least amount of home runs since his rookie season. Swisher’s slugging percentage is the worst it has ever been and his on base percentage is also the second worst in his career. When we signed Swisher we thought the Indians would be getting the player that had around 89 RBI’s and 29 home runs every season, as he had with the Yankees. Instead Swisher has a .243 batting average and is on pace to have 16 home runs and 52 RBI’s this season. Those statistics are nowhere near what we expected or wanted.

Something that could explain the sudden drop in Swisher’s performance can be known as playing for a contract. Many players in a variety of professional sports show this happening. To further explain, players that are in the last year of their contracts play harder and better because they know if they perform well they will receive a big contract. This means a greater bank account. Unfortunately after receiving that contract, many players relax and do not try as hard to perform so they numbers may take a dip. This is known as playing for a contract and Nick Swisher is a typical example of that process.

Unfortunately, Nick Swisher has not been what we expected. He has not played to his full potential that he has showed in his previous seasons. It seems that the pressure of his big contract is too much for him to handle. All we can hope for is that he hits a hot-streak and can perform to the level that we expect from him. Lastly, us Clevelanders may need to return to our favorite saying for Nick Swisher: “There’s always next year.”
-Dal Oprian

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