Dansby Swanson came up big on Monday with a walk-off two out hit in the ninth to deliver the Braves a 5-4 win and a four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres. It was a nice piece of timely hitting for Swanson who has battled his way through a tough start to the 2017 season.
Entering play on Tuesday, Swanson is slashing .151/.182/.226. To his credit, he has continued to provide Atlanta with solid defense at the shortstop position and seems unfazed by his recent difficulties. Swanson talked about his slow start with Grant McAuley of 92.9 The Game prior to home opener.
“I actually feel really good and I’m actually in a really good place mentally,” said Swanson said of his approach at the plate. “It’s just baseball right now and I’m just fine-tuning some things. Also, I’m just trying to make sure I’m doing what I do best and that’s to go up there with a confident mindset each time. [Results] haven’t happened yet, but I definitely have faith it’s going to.”
Small sample size rules are in play here as Swanson has amassed just 55 plate appearances this season. His strikeout rate is actually down slightly according to FanGraphs but his walk rate has also fallen from 9.0 percent last season to 3.6 percent this season. One thing that does jump out is Swanson’s BABIP which is at .175 and suggests that he has been a bit unlucky when he has put the ball in play. For context, Swanson posted a .383 BABIP last season. He has actually hit safely in eight of Atlanta’s 12 games this season but is still looking for his first multi-hit game.
Swanson was just 2-for-17 with three strikeouts and no walks in the Padres series. After Monday’s walk-off win, he reiterated to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that he is just trying to stay consistent and hoping that Monday’s game-winner might be able to get him going.
"It's one of those things where you just have to stay consistent and stay with what you're doing," Swanson said. "[Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer] is really, really good at making sure I stay within myself, and every day we're working to stay with what I do best. Hopefully, that will propel me to where I need to be."
Swanson isn’t panicking about his slow start and the Braves aren’t either. The plan coming into this season was to hit Swanson second in the batting order and that is where he has been for all 12 games this season.
With Freddie Freeman continuing to sizzle behind him, Swanson will continue to receive good pitches to hit and opportunities to produce. At this point, patience is in order at least until that BABIP stabilizes.