The Atlanta Braves and Dansby Swanson: Ditch or Dance?
Swanson is one of the best shortstops in the National League. This season, only Trea Turner (and maybe Lindor) is posting better offensive numbers, and Turner’s defensive doesn’t lick Swanson’s cleats.
Though his August was rough offensively (.265 average, .669 OPS), the body of work speaks for itself. This season, Swanson is a stellar offensive shortstop.
What if 2022 is a sign of things to come for Swanson? He’s always possessed the talent. One doesn’t get drafted first overall without possessing substantial skills.
Each full season his offensive numbers have improved. This year was the next step in his progression as a player. And if he continues this trend, Swanson will only be better offensively next season.
Regardless of his offense, Swanson is a gold glove-caliber defensive shortstop. Though the value of defensive metrics is debated, it’s worth pointing out that he ranks ninth in NL defensive WAR.
The only shortstops above him are Cardinals’ gold glover Tommy Edman and Cubs’ defensive ace Nico Hoerner.
The eye test confirms Swanson’s defensive value. Rarely a game is played that doesn’t include Swanson flashing the leather. Though he is no Andrelton Simmons (frankly, who is?), Swanson has proven himself an elite defensive player.
If 2022 is a marker of how Swanson will play for the next few years, the Braves will be hard-pressed to find a better shortstop at the plate or in the field.
Intangibles are important in baseball. In a 162-game slog, a united locker room impacts the product on the diamond. A unified team starts with good leaders; Swanson undoubtedly is one.
Since his time at Vanderbilt, many have praised Swanson’s makeup as a player and a human being. He’s calm, levelheaded, and a winner. Freddie Freeman‘s departure left Swanson as the Guy in the clubhouse.
He embodies the Braves Way: he plays every day; he honors the uniform; he respects the game. He’s an example of hard work and dedication to Braves players young and old.
Off the field, Swanson doesn’t cause trouble. On the contrary, he’s an upstanding citizen who gives back to the game. He’s a hometown kid. He’s a Brave.
Dansby Swanson is an excellent shortstop who brings more to the club than his slash line at the plate. His track record isn’t great, yet he continues to improve as a player.
Should the Braves attempt to re-sign him? Yes. But Anthopoulos has to weigh the risks of his past with the performance of his present to avoid hurting the Braves future.
The Braves want to continue with Dansby Swanson. Will they? Or will his history and the business side of baseball result in another painful divorce?