Unfortunately, I missed seeing Dansby Swanson at any of his stops up the minor league ranks. Fortunately, I did get to see him in action at the big league level one time before the season ended.
It was a great night by Swanson, both at the plate and in the field. The biggest takeaway was his makeup. When you watch Swanson there is a confidence about him. It’s not the swagger or ego that many have pinned to Bryce Harper, but it’s almost a feeling of excitement that he knows this the Atlanta Braves have a promising future, and he may just be the leader of that.
This was apparent more than ever in the eighth inning. The Braves, whom despite their last place record have been one of the most exciting teams to watch since September started, were leading the Wild Card hunting Detroit Tigers 5-2. Flame throwing Mauricio Cabrera came in and after allowing a leadoff double, walked the bases loaded.
In came Chaz Roe and after getting Miguel Cabrera, induced a double play ball to J.D. Martinez that Dansby Swanson made a great play on and turned two, getting out of the jam and preserving the Braves win. Last place team. One game left in the season. And this was Swanson’s response.
He showed poise at the plate as well. He ripped a double to left field in his first at bat, one which he legged out and got the uniform dirty sliding into second. He would strike out once as well, but he drew a four pitch walk later in the game as well, albeit it was a sort of a pitch around him type of walk with Aaron Blair on deck. When the Braves needed insurance, Swansby hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh and started the rally that would extend their 3-2 lead to 5-2.Swansby has done it from the top of the order and the bottom of the order all year long. Since his big league promotion, the 22-year old shortstop has been nothing short of amazing. Heading into today’s emotional Turner Field finale, he was slashing .310/.369/.452 behind a nice 112 wRC+.
Aaron Blair’s performance last night reminded you of how lopsided a trade it was that brought Swanson here originally. Shelby Miller had an interesting season to say the least as he was brought in to be the No. 2 to Zack Greinke. He had the worst season of his young career, splitting time between Triple-A and Arizona trying to get in right. The Braves got Swanson, along with Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair. Inciarte has had the second most hits in the National League since the All Star Break and despite Blair struggling in his big league debut, he finished with a strong 10-strikeout performance.
Swanson is a winner. He won at Vandy. He won last season in the minors as a part of the Northwest League champion Hillsboro Hops. The Mississippi Braves team that he played 84 games with before his promotion made it to the Southern League Finals. Now, the Atlanta Braves have gone from an uncompetitive, nearly unwatchable team, to one of the hottest in baseball and quite exciting to watch. With Swanson on board, 2017 may not be as bleak as it looked like it was going to be.