Dansby Swanson’s scorching hot start to the season quickly changed the narrative surrounding the former #1 overall pick. Many people, myself included, wondered how long Atlanta would allow him to hold down the starting shortstop role with a guy like Johan Camargo on the bench waiting for his opportunity. By mid-April, Swanson answered his doubters with a refined approach that was not apparent in his first two full seasons with the Braves.
However, things have cooled off considerably since Swanson was driving in multiple runs nightly. He’s only had one home run and five RBIs in the last two weeks and has watched his OBP dip to .336 on the year, causing many to believe his white-hot beginning to the season was nothing more than fool’s gold. But in reality, the only thing foolish are the people still doubting Swanson.
The former Vanderbilt standout hit his fifth home-run of the season on April 20th. He didn’t hit his fifth home run in 2018 until June 3rd. And it’s not only about the number of home runs, but also where he is hitting him. The majority of his bombs have gone to center field or the opposite way. That is significant because Swanson said it himself before the season; he had never hit a major league home run the other way. Now it’s a standard weapon in his repertoire.
The Braves shortstop’s improved bat is far more advanced than some added power to all fields, though. His entire, approach, feel, and confidence in the batter’s box is on another level than in year’s past. This is a player that could not lay off breaking balls down and away. In any count, especially with two strikes, pitcher’s would feast on getting him to chase junk in the dirt. Swanson swung on pitches out of the strike zone an absurd 35.2% of the time in 2018. Now, he’s spitting on those same pitches and then some, swinging at only 23.2% of balls outside of the strike zone.
It’s not rocket science: when Swanson is swinging at better pitches; he’s making more solid contact. Dansby ranks in the top-three on the Braves in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, and barrel rate. The only difference between the first three weeks of his season and the last couple have been luck. Swanson continues to mash baseballs all over the field; they’ve just been right at people as of late. It’s a matter of time before he finds himself scorching hot again, and I fully expect him to finish with a batting average around .280 this season while eclipsing the 20 home-run mark for the first time in his career.