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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fantasy focus: Nick Swisher

It's OK to believe in Nick Swisher. The former Buckeye has been the best fantasy option this season outside of Albert Pujols.

You can plug the Yankees outfielder into your lineup, comfortable in the fact you made a steal on the waiver wire in the first few days of the season.

Just don't expect Swisher to be the 2009 version of Carlos Quentin.

Swisher will hit for power and he'll drive in runs. But don't expect him to score 100 runs or bat .300.

He's a career .246 hitter who strikes out a lot (543 in 2,138 at-bats) and is as much of a stolen-base threat as you or I (seven in his career).

Is it possible Swisher could defy his career numbers and hit for a high average this season? Yes, but history says, with a career sampling that large, it's about as likely as the Indians striking out fewer than 1,000 times this season.

Heading into Wednesday, Swisher was 11-for-24 with four homers, 11 RBI, 10 runs scored and nine extra-base hits. With Hideki Matsui (3-for-24 with two runs scored) struggling and Xavier Nady possibly heading to the disabled list with an injured elbow, Swisher has to get regular playing time for the Yankees. He started the year as New York's backup right fielder, but now figures to be ahead of both Nady and Matsui in the RF-DH pecking order.

We've seen power from Swisher before -- he had 24 homers with the White Sox last season and 35 with the Athletics in 2006. But we've also seen plenty of poor batting averages -- .219 last season, .262 in 2007 and .254 in 2006.

I doubt Swisher will hit .250 this season. He threw a scoreless inning in relief Monday night, so this seems to be his year. But I wouldn't expect him to suddenly morph into a .300 hitter, either.

He's a sure-fire starter who should make you look pretty smart for acquiring him after your draft. But he likely will have the numbers of a No. 3 outfielder this season, not a No. 1, a la Quentin, the free-agent find of 2008.

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