(Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
As Dansby Swanson, a highly touted prospect for the Braves, experienced his first full year as a major leaguer, and hardly lived up to the hype. Aside from his flowing hair, he had an unimpressive season, especially at the plate. Batting just .232 over the course of the year, he was surely expected to do better by many. The previous season (2016) in 38 games, he batted .302, which would have been mightily impressive for a rookie season.
Many are hoping he returns to his 2016 self, batting well and improving his defense. However, spring training is not looking very promising. Luckily, it’s just spring training, and nobody ever performs the same in spring training as they do the rest of the season. Unless you’re Clayton Kershaw, then you’re completely dominant all the time. Swanson is batting just .200 so far this spring, by far the worst mark of his career. Still, there is much reason to believe that he will turn things around in 2018.
Last year, there was a lot of pressure associated with his name. He was expected to be MLB ready as soon as he stepped foot onto the field. The expectations could have been so high, in fact, that he lost a lot of the mental toughness required for the game of baseball. Luckily for Dansby, the spotlight is off of him this upcoming season, and onto the next prospect–Ronald Acuña.
I believe Dansby will enjoy this decreased pressure and fall into his game. He will get back to hitting the way he always has, and continue to grow as a player. There is no doubt that veterans within the Braves locker room are helping boost his confidence and showing him the support that he hopefully needs to find success this year at the plate. While he may not bat .300+ this year, I bet he will bat around .260 and continue to trend upwards from there.
As far as defense goes, expect his game to improve–he has made some impressive plays. As he continues to develop as a young player, he will continue to learn how to field better, and his defense will grow alongside it.