This is the eighth installment of the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry. Today, we are going to finish up the outfield debate by looking at right field. One right fielder had a career year in 2010, slamming 29 home runs while the other has failed to live up to expectations of his five-year, $70 million contract. Nick Swisher and J.D. Drew are integral complementary offensive players to their respective lineups. Both players could also potentially be free agents after the 2011 season, so each player will be looking to put up a monster season. With both players having a lot to prove, who holds the advantage in right field heading into the 2011 season?

Right Field

Red Sox: JD Drew (2010: .255 BA, 69 Runs, 22 HRs, 68 RBIs, .341 OBP)
Yankees: Nick Swisher (.288 BA, 91 Runs, 29 HRs, 89 RBIs, .359 OBP)

When the Red Sox signed JD Drew to a five-year contract back in 2007, they were hoping to get a player who was averaging .295, 24 HRs, and 80 RBIs for his career. The lefty swinging Drew finished sixth in All-Star voting in 2004 as a member of the Braves and was a career .983 fielder. After becoming a member of the Red Sox, Drew has averaged a disappointing 131 games played, 19 HRs, 66 RBIs, and a .268 BA.

Defensively, Drew has performed well as a member of the Sox, posting UZRs consistently above league average with his high coming in 2009 (10.9).

While always known for his copious amounts of injuries, Drew has only visited the 15-Day disabled list once as a member of the Red Sox. However, he has consistently missed games due to a variety of injuries.

The 35-year-old Drew is set to hit free agency after this season and will be looking for one more payday. Drew is ranked as an above average fielder and is a career .287 hitter against righties, so there is value to be had there.

Bill James’ Projection: .263 BA, 86 Runs, 22 HRs, 86 RBIs,.37o OBP

There’s no denying that Nick Swisher is one of my favorite Yankees. The guy is always is great spirits, does a ton of charity work, and truly embodies the mentality that he’s just ‘one of the guys’. It’s truly refreshing to watch and even have the opportunity to meet him. Last year, Adam and I had the pleasure of meeting Nick after a Yankee walk-off win against the Red Sox. Swisher was more than happy to do this interview with me and take pictures/sign autographs/joke around with the thirty or so people that were there to see him. How many professional athletes can you say that about?

Onto business, Swisher had arguably his best professional season in 2010. He posted a career high in hits (163), batting average (.288), slugging percentage (.511) while making his first All-Star team. For the fifth season in a row, Swish played at least 150 games and smacked at least 22 home runs. Outside of leading off, Swisher hit in every single spot on the Yankee order during 2010. Swisher hit second in 82 games, posting a .275/.349/.485 line with 17 home runs. Doesn’t hurt when Teixeira and A-Rod are protecting you in the lineup now does it?

Defensively, Swisher is one of the better right fielders in the game. His four errors in right field were the fourth lowest in the American League. His ten outfield assists ranked third and his UZR ranked right around league average. Add in theĀ home fieldĀ advantage of the Bleacher Creatures and Swisher has all of the advantages at home.

As solid as Swisher is, there are a few weak points in his game. Swish struck out 139 times last season (6th most in the AL) while only walking 58 times. Now, I can live with the strikeouts, but the walk total worries me. From 2007-2009, Swisher averaged 94 walks per season. Granted his hit total during that same time frame was 125 hits, so his 2010 hit and walk total (221) balance out with the averages. It’s obvious that Swisher will see more pitches to hit if he’s slotted to hit second in the order. If he’s slotted lower in the order and he fails to walk more often in 2011, he’ll begin to see his production tail off and all of us crazy Swish Hawks don’t want to see that happen.

The 30-year-old Swisher has a team option worth $10.25 MM for 2012. If Swisher comes close to replicating his 2010 production this season, the Yankees will definitely pick up the option. If he begins to tail off, it will be more of a 50/50 chance.

Bill James’ Projection: .257 BA, 87 Runs, 27 HRs, 83 RBIs, .359 OBP

Verdict

Edge: Yankees

This one probably seemed a little obvious. Not only do I know that Swisher is a better player than Jay Dee Boo, but the guy is class act while Drew is a bum. I feel like James low-balled Swisher a little bit with his batting average and on-base percentage projection, but Swisher has always proved people wrong (Hello, Ozzie Guillen). Both players will play integral supporting roles in their respective lineups, but give me the sweet swinging switch hitter from Ohio State any day of the week.

Yankees 6
Red Sox 3

Who would you rather have this season?

Check back tomorrow as we look at the designated hitters.