How Much Should We Believe in Dansby Swanson?

© Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

despite of Dansby Swanson Check in 8th place in the top 50 most recently published sites Free proxy ratingsNo one seems to know how much he believes in him. This is clearly not the case completely TRUE. I’m sure Swanson believes strongly in himself. there Re-record Dansby Swanson Petition on Change.org; I bet 12 people who signed it believed in him a lot too. But the rest of us fall somewhere in the middle.

Swanson had his career run in 2022. His 6.4 WAR was his 12th best in baseball, and 3.0 above the 2021 total. While the big jump is encouraging, it also makes him a regression candidate. Of the 83 position players who played 500 games in both 2021 and 22, only four improved their total WAR. Aaron Judge It improved by 5.9 WAR in 2022, and it would be highly unreasonable to expect it to deliver anything like repeat performance. The next three players, Eugenio Suarezand Nolen Arenado and Mane Machado, all rebounded from a bearish year in 2021. Like Swanson, all three saw BABIP improve by at least 40 points. Swanson was the only player in the group whose war in 2022 was three wins higher than her previous best season.

As a reward for his great season, Swanson gets free agency as a budget option in his position, behind supermodels like Tria TurnerAnd the Carlos CorreaAnd the Xander Bogarts. With all this in mind, I delved a bit into the year of the Swanson eruption, looking for reasons to believe or not to believe the idea that he really rose up.

Dansby Swanson: The beating

season J HR BB% K% baby AVG OBP SLG wRC +
2020 60 10 8.3% 26.9% .three hundred fifty .274 .345 .464 115
2021 160 27 8.0% 25.6% .297 .248 .311 .449 99
2022 162 25 7.0% 26.1% .348 .277 .329 .447 116

On the board, it certainly appears that Swanson’s success in 2020 and 22 was linked to some luck with the balls in play. Much of its increased value has come from keeping its production consistent in the tougher offensive environment in 2022. However, its connectivity profile provides reason for optimism:

Dansby Swanson: Contact Profile

year barrel% EV Los Angeles woopa xwOBA strong hit% HR / FB
2020 11.4 89.1 14.7 .348 .354 40.7 15.6%
2021 11.4 89.3 14.1 .322 .332 42.7 15.7%
2022 10.8 90.2 15.7 .337 .337 46.3 13.5%

Even though the price of a barrel of oil has fallen slightly, Swanson’s best hit rate of his career and the speed of its exit makes BABIP look more sustainable. His flyballs don’t suddenly go jogging around the house at an exaggerated rate. He did that largely by improving on what was already good: smashing fast balls. Swanson had always punished the Four Tailors, but their heavy damage rate rose to 62.3%, just outside the top ten.

Dansby Swanson: The Painting System

season BB% K% swing% swing % Z-swing Contact%
2020 8.3% 26.9% 47.2% 28.5% 72.3% 70.6%
2021 8.0% 25.6% 48.1% 29.1% 74.0% 72.7%
2022 7.0% 26.1% 49.5% 31.4% 74.6% 71.8%

Swanson has never had great strike rates or whiffs, but over the past few years, he’s fallen toward the bottom of the league in both. His swing rates in and out of the area have increased in each of the past four years, while his walking rate has decreased.

With so little room for error, it’s only fair to worry about what happens when Swanson’s racket speed starts to drop. This year, wOBA placed 0.390 on the Fastballs and 0.256 on everything else; Over the course of his career, these numbers were .360 and .249. If he starts to have a hard time catching up to speed, things might speed up ugly.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Swanson’s improvement from 2021 to ’21 came almost entirely on the pitches that broke off of him (cutters, curves and sliders from the right, along with fastballs and changes from the left). His performance declined in front of the stadiums that stormed him:

Dansby Swanson Horizontal Collapse

towards RHB towards LHB
2021 WOBA .368 .266
2022 WOBA .349 .327
change wOBA 019 +.061
2021 Population rate 13.6% 16.0%
2022 Orgasm rate 15.7% 14.5%
whiff of change% + 2.1% -1.5%
2021 speed out 91.1 86.3
2022 Exit Speed 91.3 88.6
Change the exit speed +0.2 +2.3
2021 running value 14.5 -5.9
2022 running value 6.6 13.2
Turn on change the value -7.9 +19.1

Source: baseball world

The lion’s share of the changes came against the left-handed. This trade-off was surely worth it, as Swanson’s improvement on pitches far away from him greatly outweighed his decline upon pitching towards him. Unsurprisingly, this change coincided with a lower withdrawal rate. There is nothing wrong with Swanson being a better hitter when he goes the other way and feeds on pitches that go towards the left hitter’s chest. However, his short track record with this approach makes me even more hesitant to believe in him. I’d be curious to see if this trend continues and if it affects how shooters attack it.

Of course, Swanson has not only had a career year. Depending on your preferred defensive metric, he rated anywhere from good to excellent with the gauntlet. The chart below shows how it stacks up compared to its POS mates. The 2022 season is on the left, and to provide a larger sample, the last three seasons are on the right:

Free Shortstop Defense Agent: 2022 and 2020-22

2022 2020-22
player OAA DR UZR UZR / 150 player OAA DR UZR UZR / 150
Swanson 20 9 1.1 1.7 Swanson 29 11 2.3 1.4
Turner 0 -1 -0.7 -1.2 Turner -2 -5 -1 -0.6
Korea -3 3 1 1.9 Korea 14 30 3.2 2.1
Bogarts 5 4 4.9 4.7 Bogarts -7 -5 7.4 2.9

Looking at this graph, I have two main approaches. The first is that we should all try to find someone who loves us as much as the UZR Xander Bogaerts. The second is that while Swanson’s 20 OAA in 2022 deserves some healthy skepticism (just like any one-year rise in one defensive metric), there’s little reason to doubt that he’s a consistently good defender in short. He had a negative DRS in 2021, but apart from that, he scored high on all three major defensive metrics year after year. He’s also excelled while playing in traditional short positions, which should bode well for a turn-free future.

I have little to worry about Swanson’s arm strength, which Statcast ranks fourth among all the short stops. However, the DRS has credited Swanson’s throw of 9 saved runs in 2022, so it clearly hasn’t stopped him from dropping just yet.

You can probably already tell the nature of this article back and forth, but I haven’t found anything that has made me feel more confident that Swanson has made a U-turn in 2022. I have little reason to believe he’s been hit hard will continue to approach rate and lower drag into 2023. And with That is, as long as he crushes fast balls and the opposing shooters are happy to throw them more than half the time, he’ll be fine.

Where does all this leave Swanson as he looks to sign a new deal? Here are Steamer’s predictions and Ben Clemens contract estimates for four short stops:

Free agent contract estimates

player age Years AAV the total 2022 war 2023 Anticipated War
Tria Turner 30 9 $32 million $288 million 6.3 4.7
Carlos Correa 28 10 33 million dollars 300 million dollars 4.4 5
Xander Bogarts 30 7 $31 million $217 million 6.1 4.4
Dansby Swanson 29 6 24 million dollars 144 million dollars 6.4 3.3

Steamer is pretty tough, expecting his war to be back to where it was in 2021. While Swanson has been coming off his first season with over four WARs, his fellow short-stayers have had at least three such seasons, and Steamer projects are all of them to get that far. Next year. All three have a career WRC+118 or better, a mark Swanson never reached.

Of course, Swanson is not the only terminal on the market that has drawbacks. While Correa and Turner have struggled with injuries at times, Swanson has been very solid, having missed just two games in the past three years. Turner won’t maintain elite pace forever, and it doesn’t look like the Bogarts will be able to stay short for more than another year or two.

It’s also possible that we underestimated Swanson a little because he did so much of his upbringing in the Major League that everyone can see – 2016 was his only 100-game season as a minor player. It has now scored four years in a row with at least 2.0 WAR, and this year it has shown its bullish trend. Digging into these numbers, I understand why Ben Clemens called him the “Sometime All-Star” in the Top 50. His breakout season may have stemmed from BABIP’s luck and tumultuous defensive metrics, but that doesn’t mean Swanson won’t experience similar good fortune multiple times over the course of his next decade.

If Dansby Swanson’s experience entails a solid shortstop defense, a mediocre league bat, and the occasional great season mixed in whenever the BABIP Gods decide to look at him favorably, most teams would subscribe to that in a heartbeat. And if he’s able to hold on to his winnings in 2022 both on the plate and on the field, he could make us all believe.

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