Early Season Dansby Swanson Has Been Outstanding and Historic
It’s grating how much less I’m able to enjoy the superlative early-season performance of Dansby Swanson because of the Cubs’ early-season losses. Like Swanson, himself, right now I care so much more about the W’s and L’s than any individual performances.
But the performance has been superlative, on the field, and at the plate: 18 PAs, 10(!) H, 2 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1(!) K. Now, the .625 BABIP isn’t going to last more than a couple days, but keep in mind, the guy has hit a line drive on 31.3%(!) of his batted balls, and has an average exit velocity of 93.7 mph – the guys is SMACKING the ball. That’s gonna get you a lot of hits.
Speaking of the hits, yesterday marked Swanson’s third three-hit game in his first four with the Cubs. Know how many other new Cubs have done that since 1901? Zero.
The strikeout rate is a really fascinating one, by the way, because the Cubs have been facing some serious strikeout pitchers already, and Swanson only just struck out for the first time last night. We know that strikeouts have been the one bugaboo of his recent career turn for the better offensively, so a meaningful cut in the strikeout rate this year would be quite a surprise.
Just 18 plate appearances isn’t enough to tell you much, but we do know that strikeout rate is one of those stats that stabilizes very quickly, and you can start having some signal as soon as 50 PAs (and a decent bit of signal by 100 PAs). Interesting micro-data at a swing level: so far this year, Swanson is swinging WAAAAY less than usual, but making WAAAAY more contact when he does swing. That’s just offered “for fun,” but we’ll check back in a few weeks.
I didn’t want the Cubs’ three-game losing streak to completely distract me from the fact that the Cubs brought in a $177 million player this offseason who is, through four games, playing like a $354 million player. That doesn’t mean it’ll hold up over his next 40 or 400 games with the Cubs, but I can tell you for certain that if these four games had been strongly in the other direction for Swanson, you absolutely would’ve been hearing about it from certain corners.
So, anyway. Good on Swanson for the great start. Losing sucks. So far, Swanson does not.