With Acuña and Albies down, who is bringing the offense?

With Acuña and Albies down, who is bringing the offense?
FILE – Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, center, celebrates after hitting a walk-off two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Atlanta. (FILE AP Photo/John Bazemore)

KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – While the Braves came up empty in their quest of a sweep of their rival Phillies on Sunday night, there’s lots to like about the production this team is getting from the top of their order, even in the absence of Ronald Acuña Jr and Ozzie Albies. In ten games at the top of the Atlanta order, Dansby Swanson is hitting .383 with six doubles, one home run and a .970 OPS. Half of those two-base hits came in the span of six innings Sunday night against Philly, as Swanson has now hit safely in nine consecutive contests. With another big game at the plate, Swanson became the first player in the Majors with multiple hitting streaks of nine or more games this season, after opening the 2020 campaign with a ten game hit streak. Entering play last night, Swanson had 33 base hits on the season, which was the most among shortstops in baseball.

Losing Ronald Acuña’s production from the leadoff spot would be a big blow for any team. And the Braves certainly needed someone to step up to fill that role. Swanson has done such a solid job at the top of Brian Snitker’s order that you can make the argument that he should remain there even when Acuña is healthy. Speaking of Ronald, there’s a chance he could return to the lineup as soon as tomorrow against Gerrit Cole and the Yankees. Now, while we know how much Ronnie has thrived in the leadoff spot over the last two seasons, I’d make the counterpoint that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

In the short term, the club could elect to slide Ronald into the third spot in the order, and move everyone else down a spot. There’s also a chance he could return to the leadoff spot, moving Swanson to the two-hole and Freeman back to his customary third spot. It will be an interesting decision for the club to make but you can’t underestimate the job that Dansby has done on the offensive side of the ball. Obviously, a big key for the Braves shortstop has been remaining healthy, which has been an issue over the last few seasons. While it may have taken a little longer for Swanson’s offense to come around like everyone had envisioned when he was drafted number one overall, 2020 has been a breakout season for Dansby at a time the Braves needed him most.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet