It only seemed fitting that I would take this player review, to be honest.
For anyone who follows me on Twitter, I am an unapologetic Dansby Swanson apologist. To start with, his biological brother is my fraternity brother. I’ve been hearing about Dansby from a proud big brother since he was in middle school, probably. So from the moment he was traded to the Atlanta Braves from the Arizona Diamondbacks, I was a fan.
And frankly, it’s more than a little cool to see a guy that I know grew up in Atlanta as a Braves fan get a chance to win a World Series for HIS team.
In a lot of ways, this year felt like the year we finally saw what Dansby can be offensively. He essentially matched his career slash line, posting a .248/.311/.449, but he hit another gear in terms of power, smashing 27 home runs on the year.
It wouldn’t be a Dansby season without some ups and downs at the plate, though. After putting up a paltry .582 OPS in the first month of the season, he heated up in May, launching six homers in 93 at-bats as part of an .876 OPS. June was back closer to his norm at .707, and then he went for back-to-back solid months of .924 and .898 before slowing down in September.
In the postseason, Swanson continued his slide at the plate through the first two rounds, but an .804 OPS in the World Series was buoyed by a pair of highlight home runs. The first tied Game 4 in the seventh inning before Jorge Soler put the Braves ahead for good with a solo homer of his own, and the second put Atlanta ahead 5-0 and really felt like the finishing blow after Soler sent a ball into literal orbit.
Truthfully, what costs Swanson in the eyes of the fanbase is comparison. Over the history of baseball, having a solid defensive shortstop who can hit .248 with 27 homers would be seen as a huge asset. But Dansby is playing in the midst of a boom period in terms of production at the shortstop position. He ranked 10th among qualified MLB shortstops in OPS despite finishing third in home runs, and his .248 batting average was good for 11th.
In reality, it’s tough to know what to make of Swanson’s future in Atlanta. He was predictably tendered a contract, but he’s entering his last arbitration year – assuming that’s still a thing after the lockout – without a long-term deal. If he has another year like 2021, it’s easy to see where he and the Braves might be able to come to terms on a mutually beneficial deal. But if he’s less productive – or even significantly more productive – the second act of his career will likely take place elsewhere.