Nick Swisher is consistent. He's consistently hated because, well, he's Nick Swisher. He's this guy. He's that guy. He's all of the guys! But he's also consistently hitting 20-some bombs, scoring 80 runs and driving in 80 more. In fact, last season was Swisher's first campaign since 2006 without hitting the 20/80/80 threshold; he instead slacked his way to 24 home runs, 75 runs and 93 RBI with the Yankees. When New York let Swisher strut his stuff to Cleveland, I wasn't terribly concerned that his offensive production would fall flat minus a short porch in the Bronx. I did concede, however, that some of his home runs would likely turn into doubles in a roomier Progressive Field. Still, was 20/80/80 possible? Absolutely. A slow start and some time on the sidelines have all but derailed the chances of him doing that again, but it hasn't stopped me from buying the 32-year old's services ROS (rest of season). After missing some time with a bum shoulder, Swisher is back and expected to be an everyday fixture in an offense that ranks fifth in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. While the return on Swisher thus far has been underwhelming -- he's hitting .235/.340/.398 with eight home runs, 15 doubles, 38 runs and 29 RBI in 68 games -- there is reason for hope.
Year: LD%, GB%, FB%, HR/FB
2012: 22.3%, 38.8%, 39.0%, 15.4%
2013: 25.3%, 37.4%, 37.4%, 11.3%
As you can see, Swisher's FB% and HR/FB% are trending down, but not to the point where you sincerely doubt he could again return to his 2012 numbers. It's also important to point out his LD%, which currently represents a career best. With such a high LD%, a declining GB% and such a low BA, I believe Swisher has been the victim of bad luck. He's also striking out less, while his .280 BABIP is at a four-season low. Since his return from a prolonged absence, Swisher has gone 6-for-27 with five runs, five RBI and one-game winning homer against his former White Sox teammates. Love him or most likely hate him, I see plenty of value left in Swisher's bat. I think he can reach 20 home runs and finish close to 80 runs and a shade over 70 RBI.
Oh, it's more consistency you want? Then have yourself a tall glass of Adam LaRoche, who consistently stinks in April and then turns it on after. From 2008-2010, LaRoche hit exactly 25 home runs and averaged 89 RBI before injuries wiped out his 2011 season. Then last year, LaRoche made up for lost time by smacking a career-best 33 home runs and 100 RBI. So far, the Nationals first baseman is hitting .257/.341/.445 with 12 home runs, 36 runs and 35 RBI, with seven of those homers coming in May. He hit just two home runs in June but his average is finally creeping up to respectability after opening the season with a .136 BA in April. Now the calendar has flipped to July and I see another hot streak coming. Over the last 15 days, LaRoche is hitting .333 with a .956 OPS, including two home runs, five runs and six ribbies. His ISO is down, but his HR/FB is still a healthy 15.8%, compared to last year's 17.0%. In his career, LaRoche has smacked 115 of his 209 career home runs after July 1, and his batting average jumps a whole 45 points (from .248 to .293) in the second half. I don't see another 33-homer season, but I wouldn't bet against LaRoche reaching that 25-homer plateau yet again. He's still a solid power and RBI source and makes for a fine corner infield or utility fit. And if your first baseman goes down, he can fill in there, too.
Alex Kantecki is a fantasy baseball writer for Fake Teams. He also writes the "Closer Chronicle" for Vigilante Baseball every Thursday, ranking and tiering all 30 MLB closers. You can follow Alex on Twitter at @rotodealer.