A little over one-third into the MLB season, the Cubs are sputtered to a 26-34 record, good for only 4th place in the NL Central and 6.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Although the Cubs will need to pick up the pace and get closer to .500 to avoid another fire sale at the trade deadline, they have several things they can look at on the bright side. For one, new shortstop Dansby Swanson has been fantastic for the Cubs. He is tied with KeBryan Hayes for the lead in both Runs Prevented and Outs Above Average this season among all qualified players.
Swanson ranks #1 among shortstops in all of baseball and has lived up to the hype of being one of the best defenders in the game after winning his first Gold Glove Award and All-Star nod just a season ago. Looking ahead to the All-Star game in a little over a month, Swanson also currently leads all NL shortstops in WAR with a mark of 2.7, according to ESPN.com. It will be a crowded field and one of the more competitive positions to win All-Star honors, but Swanson's bat also provides enough to have him deserving of a trip to Seattle this summer.
Currently slashing .270/.361/.422 with 6 HRs and 26 RBIs, Swanson has continued with what he started last season regarding hitting for both power and average. Truthfully, we'd love to see a few more homers before long where situational hitting allows, but he has been a solid addition to the front of the Cubs lineup this season with a wRC+ of 120, or 20% better than league average.
Nevertheless, his defense this season has been nothing short of incredible. He has earned the right to call himself the best defensive shortstop in the game, as he seems poised for back-to-back Gold Gloves if he stays anywhere near the place he is on now. Last season, he recorded 22 OOA and 16 RP and is currently on pace to surpass that this season with his 8 (OOA) and 6 (RP) so far, with Xander Bogaerts the closest behind him with 7 and 5 among NL shortstops.