New Chicago Cubs SS Dansby Swanson was a fantasy star during the 2022 season, even though he did not get the same money or commitment as the other top free agent shortstops did this offseason. He earned a lucrative seven-year deal after finishing the 2022 season as the No. 2 shortstop on the Player Rater -- behind new Phillies SS Trea Turner -- and sixth in points formats. He picked the right time for his best season, producing career-bests in batting average (.277), RBI (96), stolen bases (18) and runs scored (99) as well as playing in all 162 games.
While Swanson was more valuable in fantasy than both Carlos Correa (Giants) and Xander Bogaerts (Padres), he does not offer quite the same career pedigree and perceived statistical upside. In seven big league seasons with the Braves, Swanson was an above-average hitter by OPS+ in only one full season (2022) and only missed three games over the past three seasons. Well, ask a Correa investor if durability matters in fantasy. It sure does.
Some may presume Swanson is in for major regression going from a contending team to the Cubs but let's not be so hasty. He figures to hit in one of the top lineup spots, and while the offense around him may pale in comparison to what he boasted in 2022, he still has 52 home runs and 27 stolen bases over the past two seasons while occasionally hitting near the bottom of the lineup. He's a safe, reliable hitter with the potential to keep hitting for power and perhaps even steal more bases.
If you're worried about runs scored, you shouldn't. The Cubs struggled to score runs last season but things appear to be much improved moving forward, with Swanson and Nico Hoerner likely at the top of the lineup, followed by a potential outfield of Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki and newcomer Cody Bellinger, plus Patrick Wisdom and perhaps rookie 1B Matt Mervis. Why can't Swanson continue to improve and perhaps score 100 runs if he stays healthy? He should be a top-50 fantasy pick in roto leagues, and top-75 in points formats.,
Don't worry about the Braves, who likely turn to 2B Vaughn Grissom to handle shortstop duties. Despite playing only 22 games at the Double-A level and none at Triple-A, Grissom was a rookie revelation until mid-September, when he lost his grip on a starting role. Statistically, he may be even better than Swanson soon. Grissom hit .315 in more than 1,000 minor-league plate appearances and displayed modest power and excellent speed. Atlanta will be just fine.