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I might have lost the springtime argument over Dansby Swanson. But maybe we’ll all win in the end.
It was March, and the argument was heated. My co-manager wanted to draft Dansby Swanson in a fairly early round. I was against the idea, feeling shortstop was overflowing with depth and we didn’t want to get involved with Swanson if he was likely to slot low in the Atlanta batting order, no matter how stacked that order might be.
Swanson’s numbers thus far might not overwhelm you — .268 average, 23 runs, six homers, 23 RBIs, six steals. But keep in mind the depressed offensive environment 2022 has been thus far. Believe it or not, Swanson currently ranks sixth in shortstop-eligible fantasy value, using a 5x5 scoring system. He’s been a fantasy profit at his preseason ADP 122.5.
And the arrow is pointing up with Swanson. He finally elevated in the lineup Wednesday, getting his first No. 2 slot after weeks of the 7-8-9 work. Swanson was up to the task, ripping out four hits, including a homer, in an 8-4 victory over the Phillies. You suspect Swanson might keep this position for a while.
It hasn't been all sunshine and lollipops for Swanson; he is striking out 33 percent of the time, a career high. But good things are happening when he does make contact. His expected batting average is only 10 points lower than his actual, and his expected slugging percentage is .506, a juicy 55 points higher than the current number. I get it, we want our batters to make contact. But it's a strikeout world, and I'm not going to thumb my nose up at this kind of a category juice.
Matt Olson started the year as Atlanta’s No. 2 man, logging 41 straight games there. But he moved to the No. 5 position earlier this week. The intriguing William Contreras batted second for two games, then it was Swanson on Wednesday.
I’m also curious to see where the Contreras story goes. He’s Atlanta’s backup catcher, ceding most starts to Travis d’Arnaud. But Contreras’s bat has been too hot to sit lately, which is why he DHed on Tuesday and played left field on Monday. He’s conked a ridiculous seven homers in 44 at-bats (he hit another one Wednesday), along with seven walks. A .273/.373/.773 slash will get anyone’s attention.
The power explosion has come out of nowhere. Although Contreras batted .292 in his two weeks in the minors this year, he didn’t hit any home runs. Last year was more like it at Triple-A: 44 games, .290/.357/.516 slash, with nine homers. The Braves will find something for him to do, even if it’s merely to start 2-4 days a week. Given how thin the catcher position is for fantasy purposes, I’m certainly interested.
Like Swanson, Contreras currently ranks No. 6 at his position in banked 5x5 value. Snappy stuff for a guy who’s only played 13 games. We go where the stats are. You can still kick the Contreras tires in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.