Dansby Swanson’s Time to Shine

Is this the year Dansby Swanson breaks out?

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.

Swanson’s 2019
2019

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.

2018
2019

 

2020 Expectations

 

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.

NFBC ADP March 2020

 

Photo by David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire | Feature Graphic Designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram & Twitter)

Alexander Roche

Alex studied at James Madison University and works in finance. You can find him writing about baseball on PitcherList.com and sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. Twitter @alexroche_

  • Avatar Matt says:

    Nice article. Might be a stretch to say he crushed lefties though – made me to a double take – 8% above average is nice but not what I was expecting from the article.

    • Avatar Alexander Roche says:

      I agree with you. More so comparing performance on a relative basis. wRC+ 108 compared to 52 in 2018 and compared to 89 against righties in ’19. He’s a below league average hitter for his career.

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