The Braves have stretched out their lead to 3.5 games over the second place Phillies and 4.0 games over the favorited Washington Nationals as the halfway mark of the season approaches. By now, it is clear Atlanta is going nowhere quietly, and with a loaded farm system in place, they could be major players at the trade deadline.
Despite not having a ton of money invested in their team, there are not many holes for the Braves to fill. The outfield will be complete once Ronald Acuna Jr. returns from the disabled list, and Charlie Culberson has proven he is more than capable of handling a position if there were to be another injury down the road. Starting pitching has been among the best and most consistent in all of baseball, ranking fourth in ERA. Their bullpen can use another arm or two for stability, but if the Braves want to make a run at a World Series this season, their focus needs to be on upgrading the left side of their infield.
Atlanta’s homegrown fan favorite, Dansby Swanson, has cooled down considerably after a hot start to his season. His averaged has dipped all the way from over .300 to .241 and his on-base-percentage is a lousy .293. This coming after an underwhelming rookie campaign in which Swanson hit just a mere .232 in 144 games. Looking at it from a glass half full perspective, Swanson’s slugging percentage and OPS numbers are well above what they were last season and he looks much more comfortable at the big league level this season, but he has to become more of an offensive threat if he wants to be a long-term option in Atlanta.
Camargo emerged out of nowhere as a rookie last season, hitting just a hair under .300 in 82 games at the major league level. He also proved to be the Braves best glove in the infield with a cannon from the hot corner. His sophomore campaign was going to be all about whether he could sustain this type of production. Things did not start out too hot for him, however, as he began the season on the disabled list and was mired in a slump once he finally reached the diamond. A recent hot streak has Camargo’s season average all the way up to .243, but that number does not tell the whole story.
While his contact numbers may be down, his on-base percentage is actually 24 points higher than it was as a rookie and he has showcased power that he did not have a year ago, or in the minor leagues for that matter. He has 3 more home-runs and 16 more walks in 26 less games this season. While Swanson may have been the player everyone expected to become the future shortstop of the Braves, it may actually be Camargo who occupies it in the long-term.
The Braves are turning the corner in the rebuild, and they are at the point where it is time to trim the fat and start playing for championships. The left side of the infield has just not been productive enough offensively, and when Alex Anthopolous finally decides to pull the trigger, it will likely be Camargo or Swanson that is the odd man out. For the next 20 to 30 games, these two players will be having a competition within the competition, and the winner is going to find themselves as the starting shortstop in August, September and hopefully October.