Despite the rough ending, year one for Dansby Swanson in a Chicago Cubs uniform was an overall success. The 29-year-old shortstop was named a National League All-Star and posted a 4.9 fWAR in 2023, which was second-best among shortstops in the National League. His defensive efforts won him his second consecutive Gold Glove as he was statistically the top shortstop in baseball in several categories including DRS (defensive runs saved) at 18 and Def (defensive runs above average) at 20.3.
The final offensive numbers for Swanson last year, a .244/.328/.416 slash with 22 homers, 104 wRC+, and .744 OPS, were pretty much right on par with his career stats, .253/.322/.417, 96 wRC+ and .739 OPS. What stood out in 2023 was the final two months. Heading into August he was hitting .263/.348/.429 on the year and then hit just .212/.292/.394 with a .686 OPS in August and September.
Looking forward to the upcoming 2024 season, the hope is Swanson can repeat a similar level of defensive play while being a tad more consistent on offense throughout the year. Even if the offensive numbers are roughly the same, which is logical to expect, the hope is to not have another ill-timed slump. Assuming a solid bill of health, it feels safe to slot him for around 20 homers, a .250/.320/.420 slash and .740 OPS offensively. Add in around 8-10 DRS and 2-3 UZR (ultimate zone rating) defensively. Ideally would like to see Swanson be at least a 3.5-4 fWAR player in 2024.
Steamer projections have Swanson at a 2.9 fWAR with a .250/.319/.419 slash, 22 homers, .738 OPS, 101 wRC+ and 5.7 Def. The defensive metrics seem a bit low, which brings down the fWAR projection, while the offensive projections make a lot of sense. A potential 5.7 Def would be his lowest since 2019 and a 14.5-point drop from last year. For what it's worth, Swanson has recorded a 20+ Def over the past two seasons and has averaged roughly a 14.5 Def since 2020. His defensive play could very well could regress a bit, but hopefully not by that much considering the recent track record.
Swanson will be 30 this coming season, so while not a youngster anymore he is not necessarily old either. He should be still in his prime years assuming his health and body are all okay. If the Cubs are going to try to compete then he will be an important cog on this team.