Swanson just shy of cycle as Braves stay hot

Early success can be attributed to improved plate coverage

April 6th, 2018

DENVER -- When Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson talks about the need "to fill yourself with positivity," he explains himself by saying positive thoughts fuel the mind the same way healthy food fuels the body.

It wasn't easy for Swanson to maintain a positive frame of mind last year, and he entered this season knowing his doubters were willing to pounce. But the start of this season has enabled him to regain that quiet sense of confidence he will maintain while humbly carrying a small chip on his shoulder.

Swanson added to his early success as he finished a home run shy of the cycle during Friday's 8-3 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. His two-run triple highlighted a four-run first inning, and his RBI double during a three-run fifth capped his second three-hit game of the young season.

"It's been really good," manager Brian Snitker said. "He worked really hard all spring. He came in with a chip on his shoulder. I think he wants to prove to everybody he can be better than what they saw last year. He worked hard in the spring. He's been a driven-focused guy."

As Swanson has hit .370 (10-for-27) through his first six games, he has distanced himself from memories of last season, when his batting average stayed below the Mendoza Line through most of the season's first two months.

Swanson has four multi-hit performances and two three-hit games. He totaled three, three-hit games last year, with the first coming June 7, his 56th game of the season. The first of his 24 multi-hit games last year occurred on April 29, his 22nd game of the season.

"I think it's important for sure," Swanson said. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. But at the same time, you know me well enough to know I'm just going to continue to put my head down and continue to go about the same process. The results definitely help and they help moving forward, but at the same time, it's not something I'm focused on."

Some of Swanson's success can be attributed to the improved plate coverage he has displayed thus far this season. His third-inning single on Friday came against a fastball on the outer third of the plate. He has gone 5-for-11 against pitches on the outer third this year. This is encouraging considering he batted .221 (31-for-140) against these pitches in 2017.

"A lot of it is just positioning," Swanson said. "We've talked about body positioning and how important it is. I think that was one of the biggest focuses for me during the offseason, consistently getting to the point where I need to be. That helps with those pitches on the outer half for sure."