The second phase of All-Star voting begins today, and Braves fans need to be on their toes because they have plenty of guys that could potentially be named starters for the National League. Travis d’Arnaud, Ozzie Albies, Adam Duvall, and William Contreras are all finalists for their respective positions, but none are more deserving than Dansby Swanson, who is competing with Trea Turner for the honor to be the starting shortstop.
Turner’s been fantastic this season, so this isn’t taking anything away from him. He’s hitting .311 with 11 bombs and has also stolen 16 bases. Turner deserves to be an All-Star, but there’s no way he should be starting over Dansby Swanson, who is a legitimate MVP candidate.
Since April 20th, there hasn’t been a better player in baseball, and that’s not an exaggeration. In Swanson’s last 67 games, he’s hitting .331 with 14 homers, 47 RBIs, and 12 steals — all while playing some of the best defense in the league at shortstop. Swanson has also been arguably the most clutch player in the league this season. With runners in scoring position, he’s hitting a ridiculous .383 with a 1.124 OPS. Yet somehow, he’s been even better with two outs and runners in scoring position, hitting .419 (!) with a 1.293 OPS.
Yesterday marked the halfway point to the season, and Swanson has accumulated 4.0 fWAR. If the season ended today, he would have a legitimate chance at winning the NL MVP. Only two players in the National League have accrued more WAR this season — Paul Goldschmidt (4.1) and Manny Machado (4.2) — and Swanson is closing fast.
Over the last seven weeks, the Braves shortstop is hitting .349 with 11 homers. That may not be sustainable, but there’s nothing to suggest Swanson won’t be able to produce similarly in the second half of the season as he has in the first, putting him on pace for 8.0 fWAR. To put that in perspective, last year’s NL MVP — Bryce Harper — accrued just 6.6 fWAR.
Swanson may not be the flashiest MVP candidate. He’s not going to flirt with 50 home runs, and he doesn’t have the track record that many other players have. But as far as this season goes, few candidates have been better all-round than Dansby Swanson. He’s an elite defender, insane competitor, as clutch as they come, and is on pace to smash 25+ homers while stealing 25+ bases on a team that will likely make the postseason. An NL MVP might feel far-fetched for Swanson because of how far he’s come, but he’s on pace to follow in the footsteps of his good friend Freddie Freeman as the latest Brave to take home the NL MVP award.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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