I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Dansby Swanson recently. The two most common: Should the Braves be thinking about starting Adeiny Hechavarria over him in the postseason, and do you think he’s a part of this team’s future core?
I’ll start with the first one. For those of you thinking it is reasonable to start Adeiny Hechavarria over Dansby Swanson, please stop. That is an absurd proposition. What Hechavarria has been able to due for the Braves in Swanson’s place while he was injured and off the bench has been marvelous, but it is such a tiny sample size. He’s only played in eighteen games with a tomahawk across his chest.
For this entire season, Hechavarria is hitting .220 with an OBP of .277 in 78 games. In his last full year as a starter with the Marlins (2017), he slashed .236/.283/.311 – that’s good for a dismal OPS of .594. This .500 slugging percentage we’ve seen from Hechavarria in his short time as a Brave is nothing more than fool’s gold. For his career, he only has 35 home runs in 889 games, a .348 slugging percentage, and a .637 OPS.
I understand Swanson is amid a pretty severe slump but that shouldn’t be much of a shock after he missed a month – barely being able to move – with a nagging heel injury. I’m aware he has a .156 batting average since returning, but things will eventually come around. And if they don’t, the Braves will rightfully die with their best foot forward. Also – as a side note – this team desperately missed Dansby Swanson last year when he wasn’t available for the postseason. His presence and growth this year is a substantial reason why Atlanta believes they have a chance to go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers this postseason. As long as Swanson is healthy, he’s the only player that will be starting at shortstop for the Braves in the playoffs.
There’s a little more to the second question. I don’t think there is any doubt that Dansby Swanson will be a Brave for a long time. Before the injury, I thought he was the next in line for a contract extension. He had become one of the best shortstops in the National League and just missed making his first All-Star Game. And this is coming from someone, who before the season, was questioning the same thing myself.
Swanson emphatically proved me wrong in the first half of the season, and I’m not making the same mistake by doubting him again. You don’t accidentally hit 17 home runs with a .800 OPS in 100 games as he did before his injury. Swanson has shown power to all fields since spring training, and his offensive game was taken to an entirely new level. The Braves are committed to Swanson, and that isn’t going to change after one measly slump.
Be patient with Swanson; he’s a critical piece of this team down the stretch and for the next several years to come.