I can show that over the course of his career, Nick Swisher, a journeyman player, was more-valuable to his teams than perennial All-Star and future Hall of Fame member Ichiro Suzuki was to his — that where it counts the most in baseball, Nick Swisher was an undervalued asset and Ichiro Suzuki grossly overrated.

That certainly goes against what passes for the conventional wisdom.

Ichiro Suzuki has all the shiny stats on the back of his baseball card: a career .311 batting average, over 3,000 hits, more than 500 career stolen bases, a Most Valuable Player Award.

Nick Swisher, in contrast, never lead his league in any category (except, in 2013, for most errors committed by a first baseman) and he made only one All-Star team.

But Nick Swisher was still more valuable than Ichiro Suzuki.

The most-important attribute of a non-pitcher is his ability to produce runs. (For a pitcher, it's the converse, to not allow runs.) Batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage — none of these traditional measurements demonstrate a player's value to his team as well as his ability to produce runs.

To win, a team has to outscore its opponents.

Neither Ichiro Suzuki nor Nick Swisher were equal to the best players in run production; over the course of his career, Ichiro Suzuki produced runs at a rate of 21 per 100 at-bats, while Nick Swisher produced 24 runs per 100 at-bats.(Babe Ruth produced 44 runs per 100 at-bats. Of course, he was The Babe.)

Ichiro Suzuki was paid an annual average salary of $9.3 million during his career.

Despite being better at what counts the most in baseball, Nick Swisher averaged only $6.4 million per season.

Some baseball fans might say Ichiro Suzuki's defense has to be considered when valuing his worth; he won multiple Gold Gloves during his career.

I would counter that, especially over the last 20 years with the increased use of data-driven positioning and shifts, an individual player's defensive prowess has become less of a factor — and like batting average is overrated in evaluating a player's worth.

Nick Swisher (I'm not why I picked on Swisher) was over the course of his career a better investment than Ichiro Suzuki: he produced runs at a faster rate and did so for less money.

And Nick Swisher, in his 12 seasons, played in 47 post-season games; Ichiro Suzuki over his 18 year career, played in only 19 post-season games.

It's not just in baseball that value is misjudged, that dollars get spent on the shiny things at the expense of the greater value to be found elsewhere, in pursuits less flamboyant yet more essential to success.

Unfortunately, good deal of tax money gets misspent on flash rather than substance.

It happens locally, with taxpayer money spent on vanity projects which, in the end, won't yield the degree of benefit initially promised, almost always with expansive fanfare.

Tax dollars get siphoned away on parking lots, subsidies for developers, and get invested in business theaters/education centers — with the promise such spending will aid the community in competing for jobs.

Whenever I drive down Main Street these days, I think of the concluding lines of Shelley's poem, “Ozymandias:”

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Copyright ©2019 Vincennes Sun Commercial