Look I hear a ton of whining about Dansby Swanson lately, and it's warranted with his stat line. Dansby is a starting shortstop with a .151/.222/.217 slash line, and he's 174th out of 185th among qualified starters in WAR. Turns out the worst player in baseball right now is Carlos Gonzalez, which is pretty funny considering he's making $20M this year. So I don't expect that to continue for Cargo, nor do I expect this slump to continue for Dansby.
When you look at the Braves future, Dansby is a top candidate. Right now, as usual, people are panicking over his slow start and not looking at the big picture. Does Dansby look awful at the plate? Yes. Would you start anybody with those stats if they were an MLB vet and you weren't sunk by a contract? No. But that's not where the Braves are right now as an organization. Winning is NOT the most important thing to the front office right now. What is important is developing talent at both the MLB and the minor league levels, and accelerating it to the MLB level so we can have a functional team in 2018 and a contender for the division in 2019-2020. That's how long these things take. Rebuilds are 5 year processes, and we're really in year 3 of the process.
This is the year where I expect to take the worst lumps, because it's the time when the young guns will emerge and struggle. Dansby is just the first. I expect to see several pitching prospects up here by mid-year, and then watch them flounder. Looking back, I wouldn't be shocked to see this team finish with less than my original projection of 76 wins, simply because we're going to see a ton of turnover as some point, especially with the pitching staff. But the key thing to remember is that Dansby is the first guy to show up, and there will be more, not less.
It makes no sense to send Dansby back down to the minors. He's never going to learn there, and now is the time for us to figure out if he can play for an entire season. He needs the time to readjust to the majors and make an impact. When Dansby originally came up last season, he was hitting over .300, and that's not an accident. He has the tools to be successful, but hitting in the majors is a constant cat-and-mouse game of adjusting over and over again to pitchers as they adjust to you.
So for those of you asking if Dansby will get sent down? The answer is a hard no. If he's still under .200 in July? The answer then might be a soft no. But the Braves are going to give Dansby at least 3 months if not the whole season to get this right, and the only reason they might send him back after that is to regain confidence with his new swing approach.
In the meantime just root hard for Dansby to pull it together and pull out of this funk, along with the rest of the Braves.