Swanson grinding with more consistent ABs

Swanson grinding with more consistent ABs

MIAMI -- As Dansby Swanson neared his locker after delivering the decisive single during Saturday night's 3-1 win over the Marlins at Marlins Park, he smiled at a group of reporters and said, "This is different."

After spending most of this season addressing questions about his offensive struggles, the Braves' shortstop was relieved to know the focus of this postgame interview would center on the two-strike, two-out RBI single he recorded off Edinson Volquez in Atlanta's fourth inning. The line drive to center field extended his hitting streak to five games and moved his batting average a little closer to the Mendoza Line.

"It was definitely nice to see Dansby do that," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. "He's done an amazing job with his confidence during this season filled with remarkable bad luck. It's impressive, just the professionalism and maturity he's shown throughout this season. It's nice to see him rewarded for something in a big situation."

Just two years removed from his storied collegiate days at Vanderbilt and three full months into a Major League career he was given before totaling more than 600 plate appearances at the Minor League level, Swanson hasn't allowed this season's growing pains to wreck him mentally or deter the upbeat approach he has brought to the park on a consistent basis.

After striking out on three straight changeups Volquez threw with two on and two outs in the second inning, Swanson battled through the fourth inning at-bat and took advantage when the Marlins' starter left a 2-2 changeup up and out over the plate. The line-drive single gave him three hits through 12 at-bats this year with two outs and a runner in scoring position.

"I've always just enjoyed the competition, especially after the first at-bat with him throwing me three really good pitches and not coming through then," Swanson said. "It was obviously nice to get another chance up there. I just wanted to compete up there. When you get two strikes, that's what matters most, just being tough."

When Swanson slashed .131/.159/.197 through his first 15 games this year, the Braves dropped him from the second spot in the order to the eighth. In the 17 games that have followed, the 23-year-old Atlanta native has slashed .211/.333/.263.

"I think the biggest thing is I'm having consistently good at-bats now," Swanson said. "I feel good about what I'm trying to do at the plate and trying to execute as best I can. You can't control it after you hit it."

Per Statcast™, Swanson entered Saturday with a .187 expected batting average, which is based on the hit probability metric that accounts for exit velocity and launch angle. With one hit in each of his past five games, he has improved his season batting average to .169.

This isn't where Swanson or the Braves expected him to be at this point in the season. But the progress made over the past couple of weeks at least provides some hope he will continue moving in the right direction.

"He's going to hang in there and keep grinding and keep playing," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Everything he's going through is going to do nothing but make him better."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.