While Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano rightfully deserves to be among the candidates mentioned for AL MVP for his stellar production amidst the subpar and inconsistent seasons from Derek Jeter , Jorge Posada , Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira , the contributions of Nick Swisher cannot be overlooked.
Swisher started the Yankees' scoring on Monday night with a solo home run in the first inning -- his 27th of the year -- and added a single later as New York beat the Rays 8-3 to extend its AL East lead back to 2 1/2 games.
Swisher is now batting .290 with a .362 OBP and .516 slugging percentage; the average and slugging are second on the team, trailing only Cano. Swisher has been steady and versatile, hitting effectively from several spots in the lineup -- primarily second but also fifth, sixth and eighth -- while seeing 4.03 pitches per plate appearance, third on the team and No. 19 in the AL.
The rightfielder has also proven himself immune to home/road splits. In 2009, he was the one Yankee to hit better on the road (21 HRs, .945 OPS) than at home (8 HRs, .776 OPS) while in 2010 he entered Tuesday's game with near identical splits. In 69 games and 66 starts at home, he was hitting .287/.360/.496 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs; in 69 games and 66 starts on the road he is hitting .291/.365/.528 with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs.
And the Rays have yet to figure Swisher out. He has been particularly dangerous against Tampa Bay, batting .354 with a .415 OBP and five home runs in 13 games.