Hey, Where is Dansby Swanson’s Power So Far?
Yes, I’ve noticed that Dansby Swanson has been in a little bit of a slump the last couple weeks, after a scorching start to his Chicago Cubs career.
I don’t ascribe anything to it (yet) beyond the fact that he’s apparently a very streaky hitter. Ever since he had to leave that Mariners game due to some exhaustion, Swanson has hit just .159/.339/.182/66 wRC+. Note, though, that the walk rate is a bonkers 21.4%, and the strikeout rate is bad but not crazy (28.6%). The .250 BABIP during that stretch is probably a touch unlucky, and otherwise he’s looked more or less like he’s looked all season. Just fewer hits falling in. Not sure there’s much signal there, so I wouldn’t worry about this particular stretch.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t things to comment upon. Like the power. You can see a total absence when you look at his slash line so far: .274/.396/.310/108 wRC+. That .036 ISO is less than a quarter of what it usually is for him.
It’s another thing where I’m not worried yet, but that I definitely think has to be mentioned at this point: I did not have Dansby Swanson going an entire month without a home run on my bingo card.
He’s coming up on that weird milestone, after back-to-back seasons where he topped 25 homers. That power is probably coming, especially as the weather turns, but it’s still jarring to see that goose egg on the back of the baseball card.
It’s not hard to see why Swanson hasn’t hit one yet – his average launch angle is the lowest of his career and would be less than half what it usually is, his groundball rate is through the roof, and his fly ball rate is barely half where it’s been the last two years. It’s all kinda weird stuff, especially when paired with the walk rate that’s like two and a half times his usual level.
To that end, at a discipline level, he’s just not swinging nearly as much as usual. He’s taking more strikes than usual, but he’s also not swinging outside the strike zone at an impressively disciplined rate. His 16.7% out-of-zone swing rate is 8th lowest in baseball. For a guy who is usually in the mid-20s in his career, that really sticks out.
The near .400 OBP sure is nice, but it’s just kind of a weird version of Swanson to be a slap hitter, with no power, and taking tons of walks. My guess is it doesn’t last, and the homers/fly balls come. Does he have to be more aggressive at the plate for that to happen? Well, I mean, it’s not like you WANT him swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone! Instead, it’s clearly he needs more lofted contact, which could just be a matter of timing for him.
Here is where it’s probably worth pointing out that April has, for his career, been Swanson’s lowest ISO month. No, it’s not usually THIS low, but there is an implication that his power trends up as the year goes on. So, again, not really worried here. It just was sufficiently odd that it merited calling out.
Now let’s watch Swanson hit his first homer this afternoon, right?