After being the number one overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2015 MLB draft, hopes were high for shortstop Dansby Swanson, as is for every number one overall pick. Coming out of Vanderbilt he had it all. The glove, range, arm, he could hit and had pretty nice flow. He had the makings of being the number one overall pick.
It was a short lived career with the Diamondbacks as Swanson was packaged in one of the all time worst, or best depends on who you ask, trades in history as him (Swanson) and three time Gold Glove Award winner Ender Inciarte, PLUS pitcher Aaron Blair were all traded for former Braves starter Shelby Miller. Miller, who was coming off a career year with the Braves, looked like he was poised to breakout, but unfortunately, life doesn’t always work the way we want. Unless you’re a Braves fan, then in this case it did. We’re not here to talk about that though.
Swanson was then promoted from Double-A straight to the big leagues the next year in 2016 and spent 38 games with the Braves that year and played really well. Swanson slashed .302/.361/.442 with three bombs and three steals but didn’t fare too well in the field committing six errors in 313 innings. Needless to say, things were looking up for Swanson after that cup of tea with the Braves.
Then 2017 happened. In 144 games, Swanson slashed .232/.312/.324– .636 OPS, the league average that season was .750, and to make matters worse, his defense wasn’t that great either as he was sitting at a -7 for defensive runs saved above average per 1,200 innings. Even with the low average, Dansby still did kind of do a decent job on getting on base as he walked 59 times compared to his 120 strikeouts. Things could have been worse, but Dansby was looking for big improvement heading into the 2018 season.
2018 came and gone and Swanson improved his power stroke as well as his defense. Swanson went from 31 extra base hits to 43, upping his slugging percentage from .324 all the way up to .395. Not ideal, but it’s an improvement. The biggest development in Swansons game has been his defense. After a whooping 20 errors and a .965 fielding percentage in 2017, Dansby upgraded to only 10 errors with a fielding percentage of .981. Not to mention his WAR went from -.4 all the way to 2.3. Once you dive a little deeper into the statistics, there are areas he improved. On the surface though, it’s not so pleasant.
Fast forward to 2019 and this is a huge year for his production and future. Swanson did have a great spring, putting hope back into the hearts of Brave fans and Swanson believers. Over 14 games, Swanson hit .353/.421/.559 with two home runs and two steals and very importantly, 3 walks. In my opinion, if Swanson would take a fee more pitches, be a bit more selective, he would be so much more valuable as a player and for the team as well. But what the fuck do I know? Nothing. That’s what I know. So Dansby, if you’re reading, do whatever the fuck you want. For now, he’s stuck at the bottom of the lineup so he will mostly see a lot of fastballs.
The Braves don’t NEED but could really use a Dansby Swanson of old. Old as in 38 game rookie Dansby rookie year. Maybe he won’t project into a bonafide number one overall pick, like a Alex Rodriguez, but he still could eventually turn out into an above average shortstop with many years left. With the Braves coming out and announcing Johan Camargo will be moved into the “super utility” role, shortstop is all for Swanson as he’s started the first three games. If he can keep Camargo at arms length, I think the Braves will give Swanson one more shot. If Swanson can keep up the good defense and hopefully draw a few more walks, he should be solidified as the Braves shortstop the rest of the 2019 season and beyond. Stay tuned.