Dansby Swanson was the first overall selection in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks and was followed by Alex Bregman, who was selected by the Houston Astros. Leading up to the draft and from the moment they went 1-2, there has been chatter over who you would rather have Swanson or Bregman?
As Swanson prepares to make his ML debut tonight for Atlanta, the team who acquired him in the Shelby Miller deal, I thought it would be a good time to compare Swanson and Bregman's starts to their professional career. It is certainly a discussion worth having and could become an interesting debate if both players careers take off the way many project they will.
Over the past year Bregman has had a little over 100 more at-bats than Swanson, but overall his minor league numbers have been better. The biggest standout of the stats is the strikeouts of Swanson - he had 30 more than Bregman in 92 less at-bats. Swanson struck out at a rate of about five percent, which means over the same amount of at-bats as Bregman he would have struck out 116 times - almost 50 more than Bregman.
In terms of walks, they are equal. Once adjusted to the same number of at-bats, Swanson would equal the walk total of Alex Bregman. As you can see above, the on-base percentages are about even with Bregman holding a slight advantage. Perhaps there is nothing more important for a top of the order bat, and Bregman and Swanson both profile as that in my opinion, than to walk more and strikeout less. Bregman seems to have figured that out, but Swanson needs a little more improving.
As for their defense, I think Swanson has an advantage over Bregman. From the looks I have had on both, I like the range and glove of Swanson more than Bregman. In terms of the stats, Swanson only had 14 errors in 1,141 innings compared to Bregman who had 29 errors in 1,220 innings. In the long-term I project Swanson as the better bet at shortstop, but Bregman will see most of his time at third, due to the fact the Astros already have an All-Star at short in Carlos Correa.
Another aspect of the game Swanson has an edge over Bregman is the history of winning. While it may not be measurable in a stat, there is something to be said for a player whose team wins at every level he plays at. Swanson led Vanderbilt to a College World Series championship in 2014 and after being drafted by Arizona in 2015, led the Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest league to a championship. I firmly believe a player that wins in the minor leagues and even at the collegiate level will help bread clutch players later in their careers.
When taking everything into account, if I had to choose between Dansby Swanson or Alex Bregman, I would choose Bregman. In no way does that discredit Dansby Swanson, I think he has the potential to be a solid major league shortstop, but Alex Bregman has the tools to be more consistent. He is the better hitter and plays a solid defense. He may get moved around a lot in Houston due to Correa and the future call up of Yulieski Gourriel, but whether he is at short, third, or in the outfield he will be an integral part of Houston's future.