Braves 10, Nats 4 – Dansby Swanson Plays Like a 1st Overall Draft Pick, Y’all

Another day, another win. I will NEVER get tired of this, and I’ll enjoy every moment. And I’ll get to the game in just a moment, but right now, I want to take a step back and look at Dansby Swanson.

Dansby Swanson has been criticized by some for almost his entire career for not living up to his 1-1 status. Arizona drafted him in 1st overall in the 2015 first overall draft. It did not help Dansby, either, that Dave Stewart seemed to suggest he was not a true 1-1 when he traded him along with two others — one of which already a legitimate major leaguer in Ender Inciarte — for a very-good-but-not-great pitcher in Shelby Miller. So by the end of Dansby’s first professional season, it was easy to form a narrative that Dansby wouldn’t live up to his draft status.

His slow-to-develop bat also did not help things. After a short cup of coffee with Atlanta in 2016, Dansby’s three straight seasons of below league average wRC’s solidified the narrative for some that Dansby might be a glove-first shortstop with a middling bat. That’s enough for Atlanta to win the trade (especially with what they got from Ender and then Miller’s subsequent struggles), but it certainly suggested Dansby would solidify himself as an overreach by Stewart. Dansby’s bat improved in the next two seasons, but not to the likes of the 1-1’s he was compared to — Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey, Jr, Joe Mauer, Bryce Harper, Darryl Strawberry. The list of household names is long.

Well, there ought to be no more conversations. Through 63 games in Dansby’s age 28 season, it might surprise you to know that out of 56 total 1-1’s, he is now 30th all-time in that group. And what he is doing this year is downright historic amongst this prestigious group. Through those 63 games, Dansby boasts a 2.7 fWAR. Though likely unsustainable, that puts him on a 162-game pace of nearly 7 fWAR. If he could somehow sustain that pace, that would be one of the greatest seasons ever by a 1-1. Dansby Swanson is living up to the hype and his draft status.

Back to the game. We are witnessing one of the most impressive power performances of any Braves team since 2003 when every lineup regular hit at least 10 home runs, Javy Lopez hit 43, and the starting outfield of Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, and Gary Sheffield combined to hit 102 home runs. But instead of me trying to tell you just how good the Braves have been during this streak, I will let Jay Jaffe from Fangraphs tell you.

One more game in the nation’s capital, and we’re off to Chicago.

12 thoughts on “Braves 10, Nats 4 – Dansby Swanson Plays Like a 1st Overall Draft Pick, Y’all”

  1. Rob came to praise Dansby, not to bury him.

    I think you intended to indicate Dansby at 30 in career WAR among 1st overall picks, but it didn’t exactly say that. And, most of those careers are over, so he can easily rise 10 more spots over the next 5 years. He is not with ARod, Chipper, and Junior, but he is with a lot of really well above average players.

  2. Yeah, that was a little clunky, cliff. I’ll clean it up.

    Kirk, amongst only position players, Dansby is 21st in career bWAR out of 38 1-1’s, so I don’t think that changes the assessment much.

    To cliff’s point, it’s not unreasonable to think Dansby has another 20 WAR in him. Should he add that additional 20 WAR, that would put him 18th based on the current list. If he accomplishes 25 more WAR, that puts him close to the top 10. There are only 6 active guys behind him right now, so I think it’s fair to say that Dansby, at worst, will be in the mid-tier of 1-1’s.

  3. @3 Which adds to the argument that they should lock him and Riley up on extensions and have the whole infield in the pocket for the next several years

  4. Save a pre-arb deal he absolutely couldn’t refuse, I think Dansby was always ticketed for free agency. If you include his draft bonus, he’s going into free agency with $27.34MM in career earnings. Plus, he’s Vanderbilt-educated with a pro-athlete fiance, so the kid is set for life. I’d be very surprised if they agreed to a deal mid-season now.

    If they want to extend Riley, now is the time to do it.

  5. We all hope it will last. Will it? Probably not.
    We all hope Morton and Anderson will get better. Will they? 50/50 chance. The end of the year will answer all questions.
    The beginning of the year most of you would have traded Swanson for Simmons.
    Let’s wait.

  6. I do not need numbers from someone who baring knows a baseball from a hockey puck to tell me why The Braves or any other sports team is doing well. You play well you do well. I watch the games. I played the game for 41 years. I do know the game extremely well.
    I totally ignore the worthless numbers and you should do the same unless you choose to never really know the game.

  7. Dansby is an above average defender and baserunner, and an average to slightly above average hitter. All together, that gives him a nice floor of maybe 2.5 – 3 WAR per season, and a theoretical max of maybe 5 WAR (where he’s tracking so far this year). He creates value in similar ways to Ozzie (though to be fair Ozzie has been a better hitter and thus more valuable overall).

    Dansby is 28 now, turning 29 early next year. He shouldn’t command a huge payday but I think it will take $100M+ to lock him down for 5-7 years. Trevor Story got 6/$140M, that sounds like it’s in the ballpark. The Battery Power blog posted an article today with a projection at 6/$156M. That is higher than I’d want to pay but, hey, inflation is up a lot so maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. It’s crazy to think that the Dodgers signed Freddie for 6/$162M, just $1M more a year than that Battery Power projection.

  8. @11–Ed Keegan, early sixties pitcher for the Phillies and the A’s, perhaps? Probably not early twentieth century pitchers Ed Kelly or Ed Killian.

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