Dansby Swanson is a busted elite prospect to most people, and this is understandable. The #1 overall pick in 2015 struggled offensively through his first four seasons in the big leagues. A career .245 batting average and 81 wRC+ place Swanson well below league average. Despite a disappointing finish to 2019, there are reasons to expect more out of him in 2020.
Diving into Swanson’s Profile
Swanson was off to a career year before a heel injury in July stole a full month of his 2019 season. After the injury, Swanson limped to the finish line hitting .194 with no homers. The stark contrast between pre-injury and post-injury performance suggests he was playing through pain in the second half of the year – the Braves needed Swanson on the field for his glove during their late-season playoff push. However, Swanson will be at 100% health whenever the 2020 season begins. If he starts up the year in 2020 like he did in spring 2019, Swanson could break out with a full season of health.
|Season through July 23||98||64||57||17||7||0.265|
|After return August 26||27||13||8||0||3||0.194|
|Before injury per 162||162||106||94||28||12||0.265|
From an underlying metrics perspective, Swanson is above league average despite his mediocre numbers. He ranked in the top 66th and 67th percentiles in exit velocity and hard-hit rate respectively. His exit velocity averaged 89.8 mph in 2019 up from 86.8 mph in 2018, and hard-hit rate jumped by 7.6% to 41.6% in 2019. His sprint speed is in the top 88th percentile and should support a BABIP higher than his career .301 mark, further providing some batting average upside.
Swanson has interesting splits versus lefties and righties. Left-handed pitchers killed him in 2018: the shortstop posted a .204 average against southpaws with a 52 wRC+. This trend was the opposite of his career track record. That being said, his splits totally flipped in 2019 when he crushed lefties and performed about the same against righties. A key to Swanson in 2020 will be the sustained success against lefties and improving versus right-handers.
Right now, RosterResource has Swanson hitting 7th in 2020. This puts him behind both Ender Inciarte and Travis d’Arnaud. Neither of these two have a particularly impressive track record or the potential that Swanson has. If Swanson starts hot, I expect the Braves to shift him into the 2 or 5 hole which will boost his counting stats. He is going so late in fantasy drafts that he’s basically a riskless investment that could pay off big time. I see a realistic chance for a .270/25/90/90/15 season.