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2019 Atlanta Braves Season in Review: Dansby Swanson

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It appeared Dansby was on the verge of a breakout season before a heel injury slowed him down.

MLB: NLDS-Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Dansby Swanson has been an enigma since being acquired by the Braves in the blockbuster deal that sent Shelby Miller out west. At times, he has looked the part of the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old shortstop, he has often found himself battling injury and has been unable to put everything together for a full season. Let’s review his third full year in Atlanta.

Statline: 127 games, .251/.325/.422, 92 wRC+, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 77 R, 10 SB, 1.5 WAR,

What went right in 2019?

It seemed as if Dansby was finally breaking out through the first three months. It only took him until June to eclipse his previous career high of 14 homers, and after going 3-for-5 on the 4th of July with two homers, his line reached an impressive .274/.334/.500 mark with a 111 wRC+. His batted ball profile was strong, and for the first time in his big league career his numbers were not greatly aided by an unsustainable batting average on balls in play. This was the guy the Braves had been waiting for.

Then came the dreaded heel injury.

What went wrong in 2019?

After injuring his foot at some point in the middle of July, Dansby hit the injured list. It was believed to be a minor ailment, but he would miss more than a month. The results after he returned in the final week of August (.204 average, 53 wRC+, 31.1 K%, 0 home runs) were so bad it raised the question as to whether he or Adeiny Hechavarria should start in the NLDS.

Swanson would end up starting in the playoffs and would ultimately be one of the few offensive bright spots against St. Louis. He hit .389 in the series with a handful of doubles, including a heroic game-tying double in the 9th inning of Game 3. It was a nice way for Dansby to end the season after a frustrating September.

Defensively, things weren’t great. While year-to-year defensive metrics often fluctuate and aren’t entirely reliable, Swanson fell from a +10 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018 to a -3 mark in 2019. Eye tests are unreliable, but it did feel like he had taken a step back.

What to expect in 2020?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Will we get the Dansby Swanson from the first half of 2019 who was on pace for a 4-WAR, 30-homer campaign? Or will he continue to tease us as someone who can’t seem to stay healthy for a full year while running extremely hot and cold at the plate? As someone who will play all of next season at age 26, there is plenty of hope for the former. And while he has shown he is a serviceable big leaguer, it does feel like next year is an important one for his future with the Braves.