For this season alone, Dansby Swanson has been the Braves’ most valuable position player, and over the last couple of months, there’s a case to be made that he’s been the best shortstop in all of baseball.
The primary reason for that has been his offense. On April 22nd, after struggling to the tune of a .143 average for the first two weeks of the season, a flip switched for Swanson. Since then, he’s been unstoppable with the stick, hitting .321 with six homers, 24 RBIs, and an .886 OPS over his last 43 games. At a premium position like shortstop, you’re not going to find many other players who can hit like that over a sustained period. Swanson looks to be well on his way to the best offensive season of his career, but it’s not just his bat that has taken a step in the right direction. His defense, which was already more than respectable, has turned the corner into elite territory.
One of the biggest differences has been his increased ability to track balls down that are hit to his right side.
Dansby Swanson in 2021: -7 Runs Saved
Swanson in 2022: +4 Runs Saved
Biggest difference: Out rate on balls hit to his right
54% success in 2021
73% success in 2022
(on balls with >0% out probability)
Case in point: https://t.co/mdjEbBrP09 pic.twitter.com/QUyKOY9c4c
— SIS_Baseball (@sis_baseball) June 7, 2022
I’ll be the first to admit defensive metrics go right over my head. The eye test has always led me to believe Swanson was a terrific defensive shortstop, no matter how he was doing with the bat. However, the eye test is also telling me this year that he’s taken his game to another level in the field. Swanson has become a vacuum at arguably the most important position in the game. If his offense is sustainable, it’s time he starts getting some recognition as one of the best shortstops in baseball.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire
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