Don't call it a comeback

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Nick Swisher had a great night last night:  two homers, including the walkoff job.  He’s had a great season, too: he’s hitting .254/.378/.506 with 26 homers, many of those in key situations.  The New York fans love him too, and no matter how good a year Jeter, Teixeira, and Rivera are having, one gets the sense that, if this Yankees team wins it all (and with the hype they’re starting to get, it will be a disappointment if they don’t), Swisher is going to get an outsized amount of credit for it.

Given how poor his 2008 was, he’ll also likely get a ton of consideration for the Comeback Player of the Year award.  The Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig, however, wants you to know that Swisher’s 2009 has less to do with him doing anything to “come back” than it does with him simply avoiding the awful luck he had in 2008:

What’s changed? Well, scenery, for one. Swisher is having a lot more fun contributing to a winning team in New York than he did languishing for a winning team in Chicago. That’s to be expected.

But the real answer lies in Swisher’s luck.

It’s not so much that Swisher has gotten incredibly lucky this season. It’s more that his luck hasn’t been horrendous.

According to Fangraphs, Swisher’s line drive rate this season is 16.5, which is actually a dropoff from his miserable 2008 campaign. But unlike last year, there is virtually no difference between his expected BABIP (.285) and his actual BABIP (.286).

In other words, even though he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he did in ’08, Swisher is getting exactly what he deserves for the contact that he is making.

A lot of folks have been surprised by Swisher’s season, but given how freakish his 2008 BABIP was, the stat savvy aren’t. And you can probably include Brian Cashman in that group, so kudos to the GM for making a wise move in acquiring him.

And heck, you can still give him the Comeback Player of the Year award if you want to.  He’s from West Virginia and went to Ohio State, and guys like that are pretty awesome no matter how good or bad their luck happens to be.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.