Dansby Swanson was assembling the best year of his (still) young career last season before a heel injury halted his progress.

You’ll hear much about rediscovering “first-half Dansby” this season. In that 89-game span, Swanson hit .270/.330/.493 with 17 homers and 57 RBIs. It was an unprecedented amount of offensive success for the former No. 1 overall pick.

It seemed 2019 might be the year everyone was waiting to see. But the shortstop injured his heel in late July, a “frustrating” injury that cost him over a month.

» BRAVES Q&A: Dansby Swanson on moving past playoff loss

He returned Aug. 6 and played in 27 games, hitting .194/.307/.245 with no homers and five RBIs. His overall season numbers suffered, winding up closer to his career averages rather than a breakout year.

Swanson arrived at the Braves’ new spring training facility in North Port, Florida, on Sunday — a day before position players’ report date — beginning his latest attempt at capturing that career year. This will mark Swanson’s fifth season in the bigs (fourth full).

“Having a healthy Dansby, what he did in the first half last year before he got hurt, he was onto something special there,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman when analyzing the offense.

Indeed, Swanson is an X-factor. Replicating anything near his first-half numbers lengthens a lineup that seems thinner behind a potent top four. The Braves are going to need one of their bottom-of-the-order regulars to step up and fortify the lineup. Why not Swanson?

“We have a lot of great pieces in this room,” Swanson said. “But it’s not about the pieces we have; it’s about making them work together. I think the culture in this clubhouse, this organization, is something that when you get everyone on the same page, we’ll make a lot of great things happen this year.”

Conducting his first media assembly of the spring, Swanson didn’t elaborate much on himself. A reporter pointed out he’d put on muscle, which he credited to his trainer in Nashville (“I put in some type of work”).

Otherwise, he focused on the other popular hitting points surrounding his team: the Braves' bigger goals, the third base battle, manager Brian Snitker's extension and what additions like Marcell Ozuna mean for the club.

Swanson is one of the team’s go-to spokesmen, but on the field, he’s entering a critical season. He’s now 26 and starting his prime years. His career thus far has been a mixed bag, in large part due to injury. Which, as is usually the case in these circumstances, there’s plenty reason to believe there’s untapped potential in the shortstop.

Last October, Swanson’s first postseason series, he went 7-for-18 with three doubles and a pair of RBIs. The rest of the Braves’ offense sputtering cost them the series, but Swanson’s glowing performance was one of few positives.

As he stressed Monday, now that the Braves have notched two postseason appearances, they shouldn’t settle for complacency. Swanson, a Georgia native, is well aware of the franchise’s playoff-centric house of horrors.

“That’s not where we want to be,” he said. “Making it to the playoffs isn’t something we should pride ourselves on. It’s about winning there. Sometimes we sell ourselves short. Getting to the playoffs is cool, but winning in the playoffs is the only thing that matters. However we get there is how we get there, but ultimately you want to be the last team standing.”

More “first-half Dansby” would go a long way toward reaching that pinnacle. If Swanson has it his way, 2020 will be marked as the year he and the Braves finally took their next steps.