Player Previews – Dansby Swanson

One thing most everyone agrees with about Dansby Swanson is that he’s not a Super-Sub. I guess that can have a couple of interpretations…

Now 25, Swanson has 1229 career plate appearances under his belt, with a career .243/.314/.369 batting average / on base % / slugging %, including a .238/.304/.395 in 2018. Dansby added 14 homers and 10 stolen bases in 478 at bats, and played through a wrist injury most of the season. Baseball Reference has last season’s 1.7 defensive WAR as 10th in the National League at any position, and part of an overall 2.3 WAR.

Dansby will miss some early spring training time as he continues to recover from the wrist injury, but the Braves expect him to be ready for opening day. Still young enough to have upside, a healthy Swanson should claw back to or exceed the career .243 batting average, and 20 homers would be a nice stretch target.

It would be easier to be patient with Dansby offensively if the Braves could be bothered to upgrade right field and/or catcher, so it will be interesting to see how much latitude the Braves give him if the team struggles to score runs.  2019 would be a great time for Dansby to demonstrate the awaited upside.

Fun facts: Swanson’s most similar batter through age 24? Andrelton Simmons. (Andres Thomas is 3rd.)

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

97 thoughts on “Player Previews – Dansby Swanson”

  1. So my question for you guys is what is the minimum OPS we should expect from a good glove guy at shortstop? I know the days of the all glove, no hit shortstop are supposedly gone, but I would be ecstatic if Dansby could put up a 750 OPS.

  2. Rob’s last paragraph nailed it for me; there are too many other question marks in the lineup for Dansby to be a zero again offensively.

    @1 – Agreed; a .340/.410 OBP/SLG would silence this critic

  3. For reference, Andrelton had a 666 OPS for his Atlanta career. In his age 25 season he put up a 660. He went from there to a 690, a 752, and a 754 the last 3 seasons.

  4. @3 While I do agree, this well-written post is by Rusty S.

    A .750 OPS from Dansby would be probably the high-end of what I’d hope for from Dansby. I don’t think he will end up with an above average bat. That’s still a 3 WAR player.

  5. @4 I have been on this train for a while. I sure would hate to give up on two potential AS SS in the same decade. I think he not only has upside in his bat but also in his defense too. He will eventually win a GG or two. Rusty says he was the 10th overall defensive position player in the NL; Fangraphs has him 2nd last year at SS behind DeJong and ahead of Ahmed (GG winner) and Trea Turner.

  6. @3 I’d be happier with .320/.430. Only three SS in the NL hit more than 14 HRs last year. Only two hit more than 20. If Dansby can get to 20-25 HRs per year then we’ll really have something. I’d really like to see the Braves in the top 3-4 in HRs in the NL.

  7. So the Phillies are going to sign Keuchel and Kimbrel as a desperation move to placate their fans if the Dodgers sign Harper, right?

  8. Dansby has won me over, it took a long time. Go back to October and remember there were almost universal supplications here that he would be able to come off the DL and play post season. Prior to the wrist his overall athleticism in the field, on and off the ball, he transformed.

    Plus his attitude, boyish in the best sense and clearly not an affectation. I just hope the wrist does heal soon, properly, so we can all find out if we were proselytizing in the right camp.

  9. I see Acuna in the cleanup spot today and got to thinking lineups. Obviously Acuna/Donaldson/Freeman gives us 3 potential MVP candidates at the top. But what on earth comes after that? esp if ender and dansby struggle again? what would you think about…
    1. Acuna
    2. whichever of Ozzie, Ender, Dansby is currently hottest
    3. Freddie
    4. Donaldson
    5. Markaikis
    6. Flowers/McCann
    7/8 the other 2 of Oz, En, Da

    I wouldn’t even mind hitting the pitcher #8 in that lineup, but I’ve got no idea what 5-8 look like. And can we afford to move Donaldson from #2-#4? how big a difference would that make?

  10. Does Harper not want Philadelphia? Or does he just want as much money from Philadelphia as possible? Either way, it’s delicious. I could live in this moment for a while.

  11. Donaldson has said he wants to bat 2nd, so my guess is that is where Snit puts him.

    Inciarte
    Donaldson
    Freeman
    Acuña
    Markakis
    Albies
    McFlowers
    Swanson

    Seems to be the projected lineup.

  12. @18 I remember a report coming out back in January(?), before Machado signed, that neither he, nor Harper, particularly liked Philadelphia. Maybe some truth there? His decision will be interesting.

  13. If you have the choice to be a many-times over multi-millionaire in Southern California, or the same in Philadelphia…

    Are you *from* Philly? No? Hello LA.

  14. @19 I know that is what Snit is hinting at that his lineup might be but I wish someone in the org would open his eyes to Kakes’ OBP. He is a singles/doubles machine – perfect for the leadoff spot. I believe the best lineup is

    Markakis
    Acuna / Donaldson
    Freeman
    Donaldson / Acuna
    Albies
    McFlowers
    Swanson
    pitcher
    Inciarte

    You could argue that the next time around, you have two leadoff guys in front of the big 3. Until Ender heats up in the middle of the year, I’d rather give the extra AB to Markakis each game. Now if Kakes reneges on his OBP, yank him fast. With Camargo over Kakes I’d go

    Acuna
    Donaldson
    Freeman
    Camargo
    Albies
    McFlowers
    Swanson
    pitcher
    Inciarte

    I would never like to see Acuna hitting right after the pitcher. Camargo’s hard contact rate makes him much better for clean-up than Markakis.

  15. Freddie hits a homer off of J. J. Hoover who if memory serves me right, was a heck of a high school punter, before we drafted him.

  16. or, on lineup

    against righthanders

    Markakis
    Acuna
    Freeman
    Donaldson
    McCann (when he catches)
    Swanson
    Albies
    Inciarte

    And against lefthanders:

    Albies
    Acuna
    Freeman
    Donaldson
    Flowers (when he catches)
    Inciarte
    Duvall (if he is playing still)
    Swanson / (or Camargo with Flowers moved down 2)

  17. We should make a trade for Carter Kieboom. He looks pretty average, but anyone named Kieboon who has a little power is a must have prospect.

  18. Riley has a ton of potential, and judging from reports, a great work ethic. There’s still some huge red flags, however- the K’s being the biggest. I’m glad they didn’t hand him the 3B job this season because of that. It’s early though, so I’m not going to read too much into the 0-5.

  19. There is also a non-prospect Spencer Kieboom who would be more obtainable. That .110 projected ISO isn’t very Kieboom-worthy, though.

  20. @24 Truth be told, I wonder if the Braves are making a mistake by moving Acuna out of the lead-off spot? It could be coincidence, but he took off last season after being moved into the top spot. Do you mess with that? I understand they need his power in the heart of the order, and why you wouldn’t want to hit him after the pitcher. Do you want the optimal order, or the best Acuna, though? Many questions, all hard to answer. Acuna may not even miss a beat in the four hole, I don’t know.

    I wish, in a way, Freeman would move down. I feel like the ideal order would be…

    1) Acuna
    2) Markakis
    3) Donaldson
    4) Freeman
    5) McFlow
    6) Albies
    7) Swanson
    8) Pitcher’s Spot
    9) Inciarte

  21. Do you really want a prospect named Kieboom? That sounds like a surefire bust, to me. How else will he go “Kie-BOOM”!?

  22. @36 I do tend to somewhat agree with you there. Over the course of a season it might win you an extra game, maybe two. Even that, I don’t know…

  23. Riley is a notoriously slow starter, even when moved up between farm systems in mid year. Not worried at all for the moment.

    Good to hear Pache had a double and a walk.

  24. Lacking a materially better alternative, I like hitting Freeman/Neck 3/4.

    Neither have much of a platoon split, but neither Callaway nor Kapler can help themselves and have to bring in lefties (vs just the best guy in the bullpen) to face them later in the game.

    Actually think it’s a pretty big advantage in those type of high leverage situations.

    @ AAR – They had me until the emergency pitcher. Not having him be on the 40 man necessitates a profile I just don’t see being viable. Would rather it just go to 11 and the teams work it out.

  25. I’m not worried about Dansby’s injury. He had a little setback as a result of a much-needed surgery, and he’s playing in games a few days after the other guys started. It’s whether he can hit in those games that’s important.

    But when you think about shortstop, you can’t forget that if he doesn’t hit, you have Camargo, a 3.3 WAR 3B last year who is a better SS.

  26. That would be awesome if Freeman added some power. However, anytime a player talks about getting bigger, it scares me that his bat speed will slow down. It makes me feel better that he is also working on his speed.

  27. @37

    emergency pitching
    Nate Silver so pleased to escape 2016 bitching
    not many remember, he was 8 points out
    baseball pitchers though, thousands will read, this guy knows what it’s all about.

  28. Joey Votto has a tiny bit of speed too. If Freddie could become 95% of Joey Votto, that’s a Hall of Famer. A first baseman with as much power as Freddie with 10-15 stolen base speed escapes me at the moment.

  29. Interesting take by Trevor Bauer on his pending free agency (from Sports Illustrated). Have to say, he’s a strange guy but I kind of like his thinking here:

    “When he does reach free agency, he vows that he will never sign a contract longer than one year. (He has a bet with a friend that will allow the friend to shoot him in the BOFAs with a paintball gun if he does.) He figures he’ll earn a lot more overall—that commitment-shy teams will be happy to give him a series of one-year, $35 million deals—and that he’ll get to play for a contender every year.”

  30. Anyone notice some nice hitting by Alex Jackson yesterday? I sure hope he forces himself into the picture. With two old, likely to break down, catchers, Jackson is next man up.

  31. Sorry. Let me correct myself. Spring training stats matter so marginally, for so few use cases, that it’s silly and counter productive to worry excessively over them.

  32. And that’s how it’s done: Arenado and Rockies negotiating 8/260 extension with opt out after 3 years according to mlb.com.

  33. I wonder if Arenado decided to take the security after watching Harper and Machado’s turn through free agency? It’s a great deal for him, though. I don’t mean to imply he came up short in any way.

    The Aaron Hicks deal is the one that surprised me. He did well, don’t get me wrong. It’d just seem he’d be a pretty sought after player, if he had hit the market.

  34. It’s not about my opinion. It’s about whether the players are still openly talking about a strike at the next CBA. Obviously, it’s interesting to see the Hicks and Arenado deals — two of the highest-dollar deals of the entire offseason — after the beginning of spring training.

    We’ll see how it all plays out. The last two days have been more exciting than the last two months, though, and that’s great for us as fans.

  35. The Denver market has a baseball team that is 11th in payroll in baseball. What. The. Heck? Oh, and their stadium is 25 years older than ours. I hate Liberty.

  36. So, if the Braves take a year to year assignment/arb tactic with Acuna, and then sign him to an extension in 2024, everyone is going to be good with that, yeah?

  37. My point is that the same process that everyone is happy about Denver doing with Arenado should be good for Acuna.

  38. @69: Yes, it should.

    Also, for those of you saying that it’s good to hold off this offseason and wait until next offseason, there went the biggest prize of next offseason.

  39. @70 I won’t run through the accolades, but no doubt Arrenado’s incredibly good. To some, he probably was the biggest FA prize of next year’s class.

    If I was a GM though, and was targeting a guy next year, it’d be Chris Sale. I’d have put Arrenado 2nd, however.

  40. @66 If it works out that way, I’d have positively no issues with that. It doesn’t matter how it gets done, so long as it gets done.

  41. Contreras was one of the prospects everyone threw around in the Realmuto deal, that the team did not want to part with.

  42. For there to be labor peace, the players’ union and management have to agree to a extension of the current CBA, or a new CBA to replace it. Yes, I know this is stupidly stating the obvious, but it’s obvious for a reason.

    Players will want some proof and notion in good faith that the owners are not acting against them in order to milk them of earnings in their early years, and then stiffing them in a collusory manner in their free agent years. Ownership will want pace of play changes.

  43. Players already control the means of production. In sports entertainment, players ARE the means of production. They’re the artists, and the canvas. The owners control the museums where they are displayed.

  44. Actually, this is pretty commonplace across arts and crafts in general — distributors hold most of the (economic) power, because they are actually able to reach customers, and the artists or makers or creators hold relatively little power, because they have to accept the price the distributors are willing to offer. And typically there aren’t very many distributors among whom to choose.

  45. Today was some good ARile and AJax action, huh. Riley = 2/3, Jackson = Solo HR. Good for Contreras, too, and his 2-Run HR.

  46. The best way to improve labor relations in baseball would be to implement a salary floor. If a team doesn’t meet the salary floor, they forfeit their highest draft choice. When you force the Tampa Bays, Miamis, and Pittsburghs of the world into the market, it’ll create more money for players.

  47. I’d also make teams that don’t meet the salary floor ineligible for revenue sharing on the first offense, and if they fell below the floor in back-to-back seasons, they’d be required to actually start paying the difference between their team payroll, and the floor, into the revenue sharing program.

  48. By the way, I just saw The Chills on Sunday night. I’d never seen or listened to them before, just heard that they were legends in New Zealand. They’re tremendous, antipodean jangle-pop survivors.

    This was the first song they played and it’s a hell of a concert opener:

    But they’re actually supporting a new album, and I just bought it on Bandcamp. Check ’em out.

  49. @88 The Chills are awesome, thanks for sharing.
    While on the subject, last week I got to see Craig Finn live here in Zurich opening for Brian Fallon.
    I think that’s the kind of music most of you long-term Journal-ers like:

  50. I’ve always had difficulty getting into Finn’s solo work. His vocal style really needs the full on swagger of The Hold Steady to balance out. His solo stuff tends to be softer edged with less bombastic blues elements from the band, going for a more traditional “pop” feel, and his gruff hipster delivery tends to overpower that, IMHO.

  51. @91

    IMHO??
    music critiques to go
    humility hitherto unknown
    likely tends to call it in by phone.

    I’m only jealous, Sam, you are going strong these days. Continue.

  52. timo…

    reception must be poor in Zurich. Been telling you about Contreras for ever. Just like you did with that pitcher with the funny name that starts EO(vesque?) We Euros must stick together while all around us crashes.

    Take care of yourself my friend, great to see how often you are posting these days.

  53. ha, blazon, of course I remember you mentioning him many times. He’s been on your radar certainly way before he was on mine.

    Glad that we are moving on from Liberty and Harper and baseball is finally back.

  54. New Zealand must have more than four guitars, since Neil and Tim Finn, of Split Enz and Crowded House are also from there. Or, maybe they have an instrument library, where everyone can just check them out.

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