As a defending World Series champion, the temptation might be to get too comfortable and lose that competitive fire. Not so for Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.
In fact, Swanson is having the best statistical season of his seven-year career. He’s on pace to set career-highs in numerous categories, as he has a .302 batting average with 101 hits (fifth in MLB), 14 home runs and 50 RBIs (through Sunday). His 14 stolen bases are already a career-best, and his .985 fielding percentage is the best among MLB shortstops.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 5, 2022
On Sunday, Swanson was rewarded for his stellar play by being named to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career, joining four other Braves players.
“It’s obviously a tremendous honor, something you definitely work for your whole life,” Swanson told MLB.com after his selection. “I’m very appreciative and thankful, very blessed to be in this position.”
The 28-year-old native of Kennesaw, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta), has set a blistering pace in the last couple months, and his team has responded in kind. After hitting .216 in April and .304 in May, Swanson hit .330 in June and .370 so far in July.
The Braves opened the month of June with a 14-game winning streak after coming into the month with 23 wins and 27 losses, and Atlanta’s winning ways have carried into July. The Braves are now 52-35 after a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals over the weekend and sit just 1.5 games behind in the race for the NL East.
The team in front of them? The New York Mets, whom the Braves face in a three-game home series beginning Monday at 7:20 p.m. ET. A sweep would catapult Atlanta into first place.
Life is going well for Swanson right now. He’s a World Series champion and an All-Star, and his team is once again jockeying for a spot in the postseason. What’s more, he’s busy preparing for his wedding to U.S. soccer star Mallory Pugh in December. Yet he’s learned that all of it — even the game of baseball itself — is a gift from his Heavenly Father.
“At the end of the day, our purpose is to serve God and ultimately bring a Heaven-like view to where we are on earth and allow Him to do the light-shining. Allow Him to use our platform for what it’s supposed to be used for,” Swanson said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in January. “… His path for me is better than my path for me. I’m going to be where I’m supposed to be when I’m supposed to be there.”
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There have been times, Swanson noted, when God’s plan was difficult to trust. He’s dealt with significant injuries during his time in the major leagues and during his time in college at Vanderbilt. He was also tempted to question God when the Diamondbacks selected him No. 1 overall in the 2015 MLB Draft but traded him to Atlanta just a few months later.
“Getting traded over here, at the time, I didn’t really understand it,” Swanson told FOX Sports after Game 4 of last season’s World Series. “But God’s always got a plan, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s having faith in that plan will never fail you. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”
Trusting in God’s timing has been a years-long process for Swanson, who said in 2018 that he writes the words “persistent faith” in his prayer journal each night.
“If anything, the lesson that I’ve learned was that you can’t go wrong trusting and growing closer to God,” Swanson said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in March 2021. “Whatever way that works for you is what works for you. But spend time with God. Legitimately spend time in the words that He wrote through people that were on this earth. Spend time in prayer and meditation and silence.
“Do these things to grow near to Him.”
– SS PODCAST: Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson on winning World Series, faith in Jesus
– Dansby Swanson helps Braves win World Series: ‘The good Lord, He’s blessed me so much’
– Open about mental health, Braves SS Dansby Swanson leans on faith entering World Series
– SS PODCAST: Braves coach Bobby Magallanes on winning World Series, giving life to Christ
– SS PODCAST: Atlanta Braves chaplain Terry Evans on discipleship